Genesis 22: 1-14 The testing of Abraham (The sacrifice of Isaac)
God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you." So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you." Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, "Father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." He said, "The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham said, "God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.
When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place "The Lord will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided."
Our Hebrew Bible lesson for this Sunday is one of the toughest, most controversial stories in all of Scripture. It tells the account of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. As Abraham is about to complete the task God stops the madness. The passage raises many questions such as who is this God, what kind of man would murder his son, what does God require of us? And so many more. I commend this passage to you for study, reflection and meditation. You will be joining a long list of scholars, theologians, and artists who have studied, commented and written of this story for hundreds of years.
Sunday we welcome The Rev Dr. Joseph Wolyniak as Preacher and Celebrant. Many of you will remember Joseph's time with us our theologian in residence. Since then he has completed his Doctorate, been ordained Priest, and accepted a position as College Chaplain at Princeton University.
Don't forget that July 9 is our annual Mass on the Grass at little Cheesman Park.
A Word from Deacon Tim
On Wednesday, June 28, Church of the Ascension partnered with NOVO Coffee for our second annual "Blessing of the Bikes" on Bike to Work Day. We offered free coffee and iced tea, delicious baked goods, hearty homemade breakfast burritos, hospitality from members of the parish, and the opportunity for Father Dennis Kennedy to bless both bicycle and rider. Overall, we had about fifty cyclists drop by, and about half of them asked to be blessed. A heartfelt thanks to everyone who gave their time and energy to make this happen. This is a great way to maintain our visibility in the community and greet neighbors new and old. And as we went forth to love and serve the Lord, we met the Risen Christ in the smiling faces of the cyclists who stopped to grab some breakfast and share their stories with us. I look forward to doing this again next year.