Friday, July 15, 2011

Long Story, Short - July 15, 2011

this land is your land

Around the beginning of Genesis 12, Abram (as he was known at the time) was conducting a real estate search and his agent suggested he leave the family homestead and look for a place to settle down with a little more acreage - space to spread out.     

While searching he came upon a place known as Canaan.  You might say it was a rural area, not densley settled.  There, God made the promises that became the foundational covenant of Judaism, and ultimately reside among the main tenets of Christianity. 

That distinctive covenant that encourages Jews to claim a certain piece of land in the name of Israel is also the heart of the conflict in the Middle East.  The ongoing struggle for peace between Palestinians and Jews has caused several thousand years of conflict replete with war, death, injury, famine, poverty, and homelessness.

this land is my land

Father Abraham had many sons, no doubt, raising some questions about just who the rightful owners are.  Whose land is it really?  Does Israel hold a sovereign claim to the land?  And is there a special right that the Jews have because of a promise to Father Abraham?  After all, Abraham had descendants other than the Jews.

the central question

This week's sermon topic is fueled by a question from one of our church members:  Is it God's will for Israel to control the land it claims?  

It's a difficult question:
  • First,  because knowing God's will confidently on any topic calls for long and careful discernment.  
  • Second, things are further complicated by the reality that those outside the Judaeo Christian faiths do not submit to the claims of our sacred text as a sort of "deed" to the land.  
  • Third, the Biblical text is not particularly clear about the geographic boundaries of this land, and there is no survey of the property included in the Bible.  

fine print on the deed:  HOA fees in perpetuity

If we do choose to view the Biblical text as a reliable deed on the real estate, there is some fine print to read before we sign on the dotted line in front of the notary.  This real estate comes with some "Homeowner's Association Fees":  you'll find that the blessing is bestowed upon Abram and his descendants in order that they might be a blessing to the world (v2).  And that, my friends, is some hefty ongoing maintenance.  We Christians who view ourselves as part of that initial promise are going to be billed, too!

Come hang out with us this Sunday if you're in the Greater Washington, D.C. area.  We'll sing, pray, and think hard about our ongoing responsibilities to be a blessing to the world.  We gather for worship at 10:30a.m. on Sundays and you are invited.  Heck, bring your realtor with you!

Scanning the MLS,
Pastor Gary

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