Submitted by Visitor (not verified) on Wed, 06/07/2011 – 07:56
Year A (2010-2011)
Bible Book: Genesis
Verse: 19 – 34
Text: Genesis 25:19-34
When reading about this text, I found two main themes mentioned in many sources. Preachers and writers often refer to the theme of divine election or selection and even predestination in this text.
However, what I really noticed when reading this text again, was how much pain there can be within families.
Sometimes we as Christians give the impression that our families should be perfect or problem free. We easily speak of ‘Biblical family values’, as if it is something that is always present in all Christian families, as if dysfunctional or unhealthy family relationships are impossible in “Christian families”.
The family sketched in our text would definitely not qualify as a “perfect” family, or even as being guided by ‘Biblical family values’:
– We read of the pain of being unable to conceive a child and a husband pleading with the Lord on behalf of his wife.
– We read of a pregnancy that did not proceed smoothly and peacefully – many translations speak of the “struggle” in Rebekah’s womb. This became so difficult that she questioned God about this.
– We read of parents with “favourites” – “Isaac …loved Esau, but Rebecca loved Jacob.” I am sure this became visible in the parent’s behaviour towards their sons. (Later we read how Rebekah helped Jacob to deceive his father). We can imagine the pain of the ‘rejected’ child, of not being ‘good enough’ to be loved, and the role this played in the conflict between the brothers.
– We read of a son taking advantage of his brother’s weakness. Esau was so hungry, that he thought he might die. Jacob’s first response to this need is to think of himself and what he would like – how he could get hold of his brother’s birthright. This quick response makes it seem as if it was “premeditated” – maybe Jacob had been planning how he could get the better of his brother for some time. He even insisted that his brother swear an oath.
– We read of Esau ‘despising his birthright’ – rejecting what is important for his community and his family, in order to satisfy his own needs, choosing for short term gratification of his physical needs above long term benefit and value.
It is clear that there is much ‘brokenness’ in this family. As the story unfolds in the following chapters we read of another deception when Jacob is blessed instead of Esau, we read of Jacob fleeing, Esau holding a grudge and planning to kill Jacob.
Thankfully, the story of this family does not end in chapter 25. Eventually, in Genesis 34, we see the brothers reconciled. Jacob goes as far as to say “For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favourably.” But before this could happen, before Jacob could face Esau, something else was necessary. Jacob had to “struggle with God” and see Him face to face (Gen32:28-29).
In many ways HIV also touches at the heart of family life. Often there is also pain, betrayal and rejection in the stories of families where one or more members are living with HIV.
Thankfully, we also hear stories of families affected by HIV that become stories of reconciliation and hope and stories of seeing God face to face.
To think about: Is there ‘space’ in my faith community for families to be honest about their pain and brokenness?