This summer, worship services at BCMC have focused on readings from the book of Genesis: Stories of Biblical characters such as Abraham, Hagar, Ishmael, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Esau, Jacob (who later came to be called Israel), Rachel, Leah, Joseph and other descendents of Jacob. This multi-generational family narrative is the story of God calling the people of Israel to be a covenant community who will be the vehicle of God’s blessing to all people in the world. At the same time, these peoples’ lives were also filled with conflict, danger, deceit and dysfunction. Some of the stories are quite disturbing, raising questions about how human beings perceive God’s presence and interpret God’s will. They invite us to wonder about how human choice intertwines with divine purpose.
These ancient family stories have echoed in my mind, as I have joined my relatives for several of our own extended family reunions this summer. As reunions often do, our gatherings include telling stories about our common ancestors, showing pictures, and reviewing family genealogy. In the process we discover that – like the characters of Biblical history – the members of our families are far from perfect. In the telling of our stories, we cannot help but notice brokenness, imperfections, flaws and foibles. We observe the wounds of division, hostilities and conflict that leave their mark from one generation to another. Yet, like the ancient people of Israel, our family stories also reveal the faithfulness of God working through – and in spite of – our human choices and events beyond our control. God chooses to use ordinary people to carry out God’s purposes in the world.
In Jacob’s dream, God told him: “…your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring…”
May our families – scattered as they are, imperfect as they are – also be the relationships through which we experience God’s faithfulness, seek to be faithful to God, and become a blessing to the world around us.