Connecting with Scripture: Letter

  • March 23, 2014

This fall, members and friends of WCUC gathered to connect to scripture through creative writing.  You can read more here and by picking up a packet of other pieces at church.

This is the list of the descendants of Adam. When God created humankind, He made them in the likeness of God.  Genesis 5: 1

January, 2014

Dear Peter and Siobhan,

Well, your first college Christmas Break is about over.  I loved spending time with you; enjoying the tales of your academic challenges and successes, listening to you share your social adventures, watching you consume mountains of food, observing your pleasure in being together, and noticing very adult changes in you.

Now you are busy gathering your “stuff” for the return trip and I am thinking of you and reading Genesis for a Midrash letter. It is the book that tells “all” about how everything began.  It is so full of fantastic tales, and as you know continues to be the source of lots of theological discussions and disagreements.  Was it really 7 days? How did Noah get all of those animals loaded?  Was Abraham really 100 years old when he fathered Issac; and was Jacob over one hundred thirty years old when he died? What about that “turning into a pillar of salt” bit? Did Joseph of the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat really know how to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams or was he just a good guesser?  Dreams seem to be particularly important.  I wonder if Freud took his cues from Genesis?  Genesis also reads like a biography of the ultimate in dysfunctional families.  Sibling rivalry and sleeping with the baby sitter is clearly not a modern phenomenon, and if your wife does not bear a son, she will give you her maid.  Multiple wives and serial marriages were certainly there at the “beginning.”  Father’s sent children away.  Angels appeared on the roads.  It all makes the extended Bailey Family story seem quite unremarkable.

The importance of the “begats” interests me…Siobhan, first-born daughter of Brian, son of Tom, son of Nellie…The children of Richard were Peter and Julia born of Kathleen.  I wonder if Shelah, child of Judah had any idea that people would be reading her name thousands of years after she lived? Why was it so important to include everyone? Every ancestor of the twelve tribes must be listed.  I suppose it is a bit like us tracing our family back to the Lord Mayor of London and Braveheart.  We come from a special someone and a particular place.

For me, the unifying theme of Genesis seems to be the meticulously recorded history of people stepping out of their “comfort zones,” undertaking unusual tasks, and traveling far from their homes without any clear assurance of successful results.   They tried to discern what their God wanted them to do; they may have protested a bit, but they took action; and then had faith that God would bring about the desired outcome.

Illinois and Troy are not quite Egypt or Sodom or on the shores of the Dead Sea, and you are not likely to starve, but you, Peter and Siobhan, are leaving your homes and setting out on a new path.  May you pay attention to your dreams and never be afraid to begin something because the outcome is unknown.  You are my beloved descendants and members of my clan.  May God guide your journey.

I love you,