Sunday, July 9, 2017
It has not been many days since my last Sunday as an officer (pastor / administrator) with The Salvation Army and I am still adjusting to being a lay member in the pews on Sunday mornings. The past two weeks we've joined with a UMC congregation not far from our new home, and enjoyed the friendly welcome there. This congregation is also going through a transition period as they have a new pastor assigned to them by the bishop.
The new pastor spoke this morning from Genesis 24 about the "leap of faith " exhibited by all those involved in finding a bride for Isaac - trusting God that their union would bring joy and blessings.
It was a fitting reading of that text for the congregation's situation (the unnamed servant = the bishop arranging the match, the congregation = Isaac not knowing what to expect, and the new pastor = Rebekah entering into this new relationship on faith). A fitting reading even if it ignores the historical/cultural context in which arranged marriages were less about attraction and personal compatibility than profitable economic transactions, and didn't even mention the probable historical anachronism of camels in the story. Camels weren't used as beasts of burden until much later in Israel's history. (Alter 114).
And what happens if we press the reading a little further? Who would be equated with the greedy and insincere Laban?
Alter, Robert. Genesis: Translation and Commentary. NY, NY W. W. Norton & Company. 1996. Print.