Zero Hours: the ultimate con-tract

Picture the scene:
You are preparing for a job interview.
The best suit comes out.
You rehearse your corporate lines.
This is a big deal. It’s a step up.

The company is a global success. And popular.
It boosts your own credentials to be associated with them.
You turn up to the interview. Smart, confident and nervous.
You project yourself. Remember your CV. Rehearse your lines.

It goes well. Three people interviewing you for 45 minutes.
You handled yourself pretty well.
They seem pleased.
They ask you a question: “Have you got any questions?”
You pause, so as to give the impression of thoughtfulness.
Not too long mind, you don’t want to ruin their impression of you.

Continue reading “Zero Hours: the ultimate con-tract”

Abraham’s Faith?

Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_035

Whilst considering grace for a sermon, and I just cannot get my head or heart round this exquisite reality in the Christian faith, I came across that old wily character that for too long I have read as some what of a hero.  Yes, at times a scoundrel (who isn’t?), but essentially a man of faith tested and proven.  But I was shocked, when I had my presupposition challenged.

(The 1635 Rembrandt (left) is a favourite of mine, ‘Sacrifice of Isaac’).

Abraham in fact models a kind of ruthless self-seeking at the expense of others by taking those around him and dragging them through the bush backwards (for wont of a better metaphor)!  He deceives Pharaoh, Abimelech and seriously hurts his own wife.  He allows Hagar to be mistreated (including by having his wicked way with the poor women), and then we come to the most famous story of all (GEnesis 22).  A story of faith I thought.  Read on….

“Suppose, however, that God is well aware of Abraham’s tendency to forfeit his family to danger and uncertainty?  What if the test is really designed to see just how far Abraham will go? . . .

. . . Perhaps God needs to see if there is ever a point where Abraham is willing to sacrifice himself rather than his family.  He has sacrificed the other members of his household; will he go so far as to sacrifice this son of promise? . . .

What might we have heard from an exemplary Abraham?  “Take me!  I am old.  The boy has his whole life in front of him.”  Or might we even have heard the Abraham of old (cf. Gen 18:25):  “Far be it from you to expect such a thing. . . . ”  But . . . . this Abraham risks nothing but silent obedience. . . . Abraham makes every effort to go through with the sacrifice of his son.  Only God’s intervention keeps him from murder. . . .

Abraham, ironically, names the place “YHWH will see.” . . . . But what has YHWH actually seen?  On the mountain, YHWH sees a man who fears, a man in need of grace. . . .

Whether or not Abraham has passed the test, we do not know.  We fear not.”

Gunn and Fewell in Narrative in the Hebrew Bible, p.98-100

I suspect Abraham was a failure because we are failures.  We try to save our own skin every single time.  He’s like us, and that is why for Abraham, God provided a lamb, and for all of us, God provided a Lamb.  We didn’t and can’t pass the test, but Jesus can and does.

The Cross is the End of Sacrifice – rejoice and be glad!

eucharist

“We are made, through Christ’s body and blood, God’s sanctuary, God’s holy temple, for the world.  Just as bread and wine is transformed by the Holy Spirit to be for us the body and blood  of Christ, our lives, our everyday sacrifices, are taken up into his oblation.  Through that transformation the sacrifices, so often forced upon us, can become life giving because they have an end.

Our sacrifices can be joined to Christ’s sacrifice not because the Lord’s sacrifice is insufficient, but because the sacrifice of the cross is complete, lacking nothing, sufficient for our salvation and the salvation of the world.  The Eucharist (or Communion, or Breaking of Bread) is the self-offering of Christ.  Time and time again we are given the good gift to participate in this, the Father’s sacrifice of the Son, that all might know that here sacrifice has come to an end, because the cross is the end of sacrifice.

So [next time you eat the bread and drink the wine] remember the painful sacrifice of the Son, a sacrifice in which we are made participants, and rejoice and be glad.”

Stanley Hauerwas, A Cross Shattered Church, 72

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