Tuesday, September 12, 2006

bible families

I am in the process of a 5 week series on Bible families. I started on Fathers Day with the theme of “good to be a guy.” We invited all the males in the church to bring something from their shed and looked at David and Jonathon in terms of male friendship.

We are now looking at the constellation of family relationships around Abraham; from the perspective of Abraham as father, Isaac and Ishmael as sons, Sarah as a wife. It seems to me that Bible families are not perfect families. Yet in these hard places, God is active.

This week it is Ishmael; looking at the pain and consequences of broken families. Heightened of course with the 5th anniversary of 9/11. I love how Sarai and Abram try to sort out God’s plan. They chatter.

Yet God is silent as these earnest people try to work out God’s perfect plan. So much Christian energy is wrapped up in finding God’s perfect plan.

The only time God speaks is to bless Ishmael and Hagar, expelled and left for dead: God blessing plan B, God blessing the victims of family breakdown, God blessing the birth of the Arabic nations.

The two most helpful resources have been Phil Culbertson’s The New Adam, The Future of Male Spirituality and John Drane and Olive Fleming Drane, Family Fortunes.

Posted by steve at 11:33 AM


  1. Steve,

    You made an interesting comment here by your ommitting Hagar in the first description of Abraham’s clan. You referred to her later on in connection to Ishmael but it seems that the single woman again has little status in our consciousness.

    You said, “We are now looking at the constellation of family relationships around Abraham; from the perspective of Abraham as father, Isaac and Ishmael as sons, Sarah as a wife. It seems…” No Hager?


    Comment by Andrew — September 13, 2006 @ 12:49 pm

  2. I’m not quite sure how to respond Andrew. Abraham in total has 3 wives and 7 children; total 11. I have a 4 week window, with fixed pulpit commitments either side. So to choose 4 is removing (11-4=) 7 from consciousness. Yet to choose only immediate family is a Western consciousness that ignores family as grandfather (Terah); Haran (dead brother); cousin (Lot) etc. But that is a 14 week series and I would like to preach Advent!:)

    So I chose 4 characters for 4 weeks — Abraham; Isaac; Sarai/h; Ishmael. Do I have a blind spot? Probably. Should I drop one to make way for Hagar? If so, which one?


    Comment by steve — September 13, 2006 @ 3:48 pm

  3. Steve,
    We did a similar thing at my church for fathers day up here. We filled the front of the sanctuary with as many manly things as we could: a cromed-out motorcycle, an engine from a VW that our youth are restoring, work benches, tools, etc. We did a huge celebration of manhood complete with such manly contests including most pushups in a minute, a log sawing contest, and a spelling bee (trying to include all the men). It was a bit hit and very affirming of manhood.

    Comment by Peter Carino — September 14, 2006 @ 9:32 am

  4. Pete,

    Thanks for dropping by. We worked quite hard in this service not to define manly things on behalf of our men. We asked them to bring what was in their shed, in order not to reinforce stereotypes of maleness.

    We used david and jonathan as our key text – men who wept together and declared their love and had a non-competitive relationships.


    Comment by steve — September 14, 2006 @ 9:47 am

  5. Steve, You are only as blind as me. Probably less. My point was to remark at how easily single mothers drop from our consciousness in Western culture (let alone ANE culture) and that was very obvious in that first paragraph.

    So for a four week series (with some corney titles seeing it is a sermon series!):
    Week 1. Lessons Learned: The journey from Abram to Abraham
    Week 2. Lessons Learned: Loving the love of your youth (Sari/h)
    Week 3. Lessons Learned: Hagar, Ishmael & Islam
    Week 4. Lessons Learned: Sari/h, Issac & Israel/Christianity

    There, I’ve squeezed in more then 4!


    Comment by Andrew — September 14, 2006 @ 1:07 pm

  6. thanks Andrew. i found it very difficult to come up with sermon titles at the start of a series. I find in need to dwell in the text for a while personally. so sermon titles generally come on the friday.

    peace, steve

    Comment by steve — September 14, 2006 @ 3:15 pm

  7. Look forward to some more posts on how this works out – Political correctness in the UK is applying some dangerous charactersitics to “family” and the knock on to our communities of safe spaces…

    Comment by Nigel — September 15, 2006 @ 11:37 pm

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