i think i may have caught up with my coursework. maybe. here's hoping it holds! this week we were to give a basic summation of what we've learned thus far in the course. we were to look at how our views have changed (or not), and talk about what we plan to do with the information in our ministries. i've still not figured out exactly what my ministry will look like when i finish this journey, but here's my reflection for the week. blessings!
The most radical change in my wee brain is the thought and feeling surrounding the people portrayed in Genesis. As a child, I was taught in Sunday school to revere the “fathers of faith”. They were glossed over versions of themselves, and we only spoke of the good things. They became unreachable in my mind…I am certain my teachers were attempting to instill respect, but instead the shiny, infallible men were so slick and unreachable that they had no real impact on my faith. In college, we covered the entire Old Testament in one semester, so no real attention was focused on individuals. We paid more attention to sweeping themes.
It was not until this course that I really looked at these characters and saw their humanity…warts and all. I tried to imagine these men in the 21st century. I am certain I would not be able to tolerate Jacob’s tomfoolery for long. Abraham is so thickheaded that at times I want to shake him a little bit. Isaac seems to be such a wallflower. Yet, God called each of them for a purpose. God asked that they be faithful. God gave them the strength and the means to follow God and to do what God asked of them. It did not matter (and does not matter still) that these people are fallible, warty, and rough. God chose them, real people no more equipped or worthy than I am, to bless, to lead, and to receive God’s promise.
The idea of God’s promise and plan has not changed for me, but it has been underscored in a new way. This happened just last week as we read the Joseph narrative. God was at work behind the scenes in the story all along, but it took the humans years to be able to see it. God has a promise and a plan for Israel, for humanity, for creation, and for me. We goof it up plenty, but God uses our mistakes and our evil doing to push us along God’s path and plan. Undoubtedly, it takes longer this way, but God does not revoke our free will. God allows us to be, and God works with what we give God.
The Bible is not just a moral guide full of interesting stories and weird rules. (However, its value as moral code should be neither dismissed nor assumed). The Scripture is vital to our understanding of where we have been and where we are going. The texts help us to understand that we are not the only ones to be called by God for God’s purpose and plan and yet who are so utterly unworthy.
Genesis is a microcosm of the Bible in its entirety. All themes of humanity, Christianity, creation, and life are right here. Even some of the very words Christ uses are found first here. Yet this book has been treated as an afterthought in Christian education for years…something to be dressed up in finger paints and glitter and to be talked about on rainy days. My personal challenge for ministry will be to pull these themes of relationship, off the shelf and into the light in a way that makes the people in Genesis seem real and relevant to God’s people today. No need for such good news of promise, blessing, and relationship to be hidden behind rainbows and elephants.