All readings for the Week
Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67 with Psalm 45:10-17 or
Song of Solomon 2:8-13 or
Zechariah 9:9-12 with Psalm 145:8-14
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
1. How do we know “God’s will” in any given situation?
2. What is your role in the larger story of God’s grace in the world?
3. What difference might it make to leave out certain parts of a story?
4. Is prosperity a blessing?
5. Who are the “Rebekahs” in our own day, whose lives and fates are determined by men?
A simple little story this week from the first book of the Bible provides some interesting challenges for reflection. This may even be a text we will have to wrestle with, and walk away from the struggle with large questions remaining. At first, it just seems like an edited little tale about a family matter between Abraham and his relatives back home in Haran, where he has sent his longtime, trusted assistant, his right-hand man, so to speak, to fetch a bride for his beloved son, Isaac.
We remember Isaac, of course, as the very special and amazing gift of God to ensure that Abraham’s line would go on and multiply, “as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore” (Genesis 22:17). We also remember that these descendants would both occupy the land that God had given Abraham and be a blessing to all the families of the earth as well (12:3). A sweeping promise that sounds global and even everlasting: a promise of blessing that extends to us, far away in both time and place.
God has been very involved, quite busy, in Abraham’s life throughout the past twelve chapters of Genesis, speaking directly with him (and others on his behalf); making covenants with him; providing children, guidance, and great wealth; and perhaps most famously, staying Abraham’s hand from killing his son Isaac in a test, the story tells us, that had come directly from God.
However, this week’s text is very different: we don’t hear God’s voice speaking directly to anyone, in fact, we mostly overhear the servant’s thought-processes and then listen in on his conversations with Abraham’s relatives. Still, God is at work in this scene, and we’re invited to reflect on a question with which many faithful folks often struggle: God’s providence, and God’s will, in our everyday lives, even though we don’t hear God’s voice addressing us directly. How, then, do we read the signs around us, and know what God wants us to do? How much of what happens is something God wills to happen, and what is our role in it all?
(Reflection by Kate Matthews Huey)