For Sunday, August 14, 2011: Year A, Proper 15

The Reading            Genesis 45:1-15

The book of Genesis is the story of the people of God. We saw some of the worst of this in last week’s reading, in which a boy was sold into slavery by his own brothers, who had more than a little justification for their jealousy. This week’s reading skips past a trumped-up sex scandal and rigged trial—who ever said the Bible is tame reading?—plus economic disaster to bring an outcome that is as unexpected as it is undeserved.

 

Read the omitted parts of the stories of Jacob and his sons in Genesis 38-44 here.

 

 

The Epistle            Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32

Today’s short but rich reading from Romans underlines the point of the first reading: it is not because God’s people are good that God is merciful. Rather, it is because God is merciful that God’s people have even the slightest hope of being good.

 

Further notes:

If we push the doctrine of predestination to its extreme, we end up with God having already decided who is too bad to go to Heaven. I’m not comfortable with that any more than I am comfortable with absolute biblical literalism, and for some of the same reasons: Just as I think God are perfectly comfortable with metaphor and figurative language, so also I think God can quite easily hold in Their thoughts a great many more possible futures than we human beings can juggle mentally. Among these are surely possible futures in which, instead of acting from our own insecurities and terrors, even the worst among us can instead choose to respond to the love that God show us. What’s more, God can certainly choose – and often God will so choose – to redeem our base behavior and bring great good of it.  Anna Grant-Henderson of the Uniting Church in Australia makes this point this way:

“In our lives we cannot avoid being accountable for actions which hurt and give pain to others whether on a personal level or indeed on a global level. However, it is the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit which can overcome our sin, bring new life and possibilities from situations.”

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