Monday, 18 July 2011

Rites of passage

So Gen 23 brings with it the death of Sarah and Abraham's eagerness to do the right thing when it comes to arranging her burial place. Endless parallels with similar pastoral situations i face month in month out, (why are we surprised - Abraham had to deal with very real human issues like us) where the final act of devotion and love from a loved one is to make sure they have a fitting tribute and celebration and that they are laid to rest appropriately. Despite the repeated offer of a gift of a burial place from the Hittites, the fact that Abraham pays for this burial plot is a matter of honour and pride so eventually they settle on a site and a price.

Then on to a wedding for Isaac. The servant is despatched by Abraham to find a suitable wife and a match is found and arranged. Although this does not appear to be a forced marriage, i can't help but notice that Rebekah and Isaac are committed to each other by their families representatives before they've even set eyes on each other. This time the contrast to common pastoral practice is striking. I conducted a wedding on saturday, a great and wonderful occasion, where people were full of joy and happiness. But the couple had grown together over time. They had no doubt, got together from an initial attraction, physical or emotional, but had spent time journeying together, even starting a family together before they decided to get married. Perhaps as well they felt the leading of God's Spirit throughout that process and up to and including their wedding. Such a contrast though from the selection process for Rebekah, which relies on either divine sovereignty or chance depending how you look at it.

Anyway, it seems like the end of the Abrahamic era is at large and we head on with the new generation tomorrow.

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