Packing Business (Genesis 4) Sermon

PACKAGING BUSINESS (Genesis 4; July 6, 2014; Open Worship in the Park)

Genesis 24: 42–51; Psalm 45:10–17; Romans 7:15–25a; Matthew 11:16–19, 28–30

            Today we meet Rebekah, a young woman, perhaps in the upper teens. She was asked if she would marry a fine young man who lives a 10-15 day journey away. The grandfather of this young man is a cousin of Rebekah's grandfather. Marriage means she will journey to the new community a few hundred miles away. Even though this young man is her relative, she must be apprehensive but excited. It is like you going to the Philippines to marry a man and then to live there. Your Tagalog or Ilocano speech is not very good, though you can learn it without much difficulty. However, it was quite common practice in ancient times for a person to go back to her home country to find one’s spouse, even though more and more people would find their spouses where they live.

            What would Rebekah put in her luggage for the journey? When you make a long journey, what would you pack? If you have a cell phone, a tablet or a laptop, you already have lots of pictures. Whenever you are lonely for your friends, parents and brothers and sisters, you could look at them. You would pack a few books to read or note-pads to write. Rebekah did not have such things. She did not have books. Perhaps like most of the people in ancient times, she did not read or write. However, like you and me, she will certainly miss her friends, brothers and sisters and parents and grandparents.

            What do you think she could carry with her to comfort her when feeling loneliness for her family. She needs to put into her luggage something that gives her strength and wisdom. She does not have a hand phone, a tablet or a laptop. She does not read nor write. What can she carry to the new place?

            Joanne is our administrator. Her daughter, Carmen, is going to high school this September. She will have to leave her school where she has been studying for 6 years; she will leave many friends in her neighbourhood. She will have to take a bus to the school and the school is not in her neighbourhood. So she is taking the Transitional Summer Program for a month. She will meet new friends in her new school. When she goes to school, she will have many friends which makes it easier to get to know students in grades 10 through 12. She is getting ready for school through such social adjustment. She will have a chance to look at grade nine math and science. This process will help her to adjust to the new academic environment in high school. Such a program has been proven successful.

            From today’s text, we learn that Rebekah knows to welcome people who need help from her. At the well, she meets a stranger. Here is the conversation between Rebekah and the stranger.

“Please let me drink.” 46She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder, and said, “Drink, and I will also water your camels.” So I drank, and she also watered the camels. 47Then I asked her, “Whose daughter are you?” She said, “The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son.” (Genesis 24)

Rebekah has been trained in the tradition of hospitality or welcoming and providing help to those who need them. This encounter tests her observance of her clan’s etiquette towards strangers and shows us who Rebekah is.

This hospitality is extended to those who are less fortunate than we. This is typical point stressed by prophets. As we read last week, Ezekiel expresses it clearly.                                

49This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess

of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50They were

haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I

saw it. (Ezekiel 16:49-50)

As we see last week, the cardinal sin of the people in Sodom was that they “did not aid the poor and the needy.”

            Rebekah takes this spirit of caring for the less fortunate with her and she will become the mother of a great nation through giving birth to Jacob. She overcame her loneliness and homesickness through caring for those around her.  This is the best way to prepare for making a major transition.

            As followers of Jesus, we remember Jesus who invites us to take his yoke which would make our journey in faith easier.

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