If you missed today’s class you can join us after the fact by listening to the less than professional recording above. I thoroughly enjoyed the class, and the week prior catching up with Jacob and the whole strange crowd of early Genesis.
I’m trying to figure my way into your company and your way of learning and being together. As with any group I’m sure there are varieties of expectations and varieties of gifts. One of the elements of the Seekers that I heard clearly this morning was that the you want to listen to one another. That got expressed in terms of coming for discussion rather than lecture.
My understanding is that in the past the Seekers found what to discuss by reading and sharing leadership about class chosen books or, more recently, by several DVD series led and interpreted by Ron Walker. Discussion, that is, needs some content to begin with.
Next week I’ll try to be less fulsome in offering further content about Jacob and his family, and will offer time instead to discuss with one another our own responses to these stories, and how they connect to our lives.
So let’s begin by returning to the fractured family of Isaac and Rebekah, of Esau and Jacob, and then our own experiences of fractured family, or challenges of forgiveness, or any other aspect of these stories that intrigue you to wonder and imagine deeper into them.
When Rabbi Mark Biller was with us last autumn amongst many engaging and challenging offerings he gave to us was a mention of Bibliodrama, a movement to enter into the stories of the Bible through dramatic improvisation. This is one way of digging deeper into and staying longer with the Biblical stories — and a way with a long history in the Christian tradition. You can find out more about this method of Bible engagement at http://www.bibliodrama.com/bibliodrama-a-call-to-the-future/ , with an example of an engagement with the story of Rebekah and Laban.
Bibliodrama is only one of many ways to open ourselves to the Bible and to one another as to how these stories that we read affect our different lives and the communities we are longing to make.
Remember that the desire to focus on the Biblical stories as somehow REALLY for us to relate to is one of the assumptions of ancient interpreters of the Bible. They assumed that the Bible was written by God and that no matter what it seems to say about historical/legendary/mythical people and events long ago, it’s REALLY about you and me right now. This is fundamentalism rampant. And that’s OK as long as we recognize that we are choosing this way of reading and interpreting and sharing the Bible, and as long as we apply what we hear to a build a community open and caring and forgiving.
If you are a sibling, were you Esau or Jacob? Were you Leah or Rachel? And what are you now? What about your parents? The Genesis story makes clear that Isaac wanted children from Rebekah, but Rebekah in the midst of a pregnancy not asked for wanted only to die. How did your parents feel about your birth? How much did you want your children? How much do you still? What statements of hatred were said about you by a sibling, as Esau threatened Jacob? What tricks and deceptions did you employ growing up? What tricks and deceptions did you endure? How did/does forgiveness happen in your birth family? In your family now? What are the rituals that let you be together, at least on Thanksgiving? Why is the favorite American ritual of Thanksgiving a sated cheering of football teams trampling over one another? What are the offerings we require for living together in families, as people belonging to one another? How do you think Isaac thought about that? What were your parents ready to sacrifice you for? What did they sacrifice you for?
Are these really God’s “Chosen People”? Are we? And do you really think that the Bible is ultimately about you? Is relevance to you the purpose of the Bible?
Or, whatever else you’d like to bring seeking and wondering to our class next Sunday, March 6th. And in the meantime you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Thanks for all your good company. — Michael
p.s. Do read Genesis 34-38 for the first notices of Jacob’s children. It should make you feel better about any children you have.