welcoming the stranger, babel, and multiple falls

Last week was hectic, with the first full week of classes and more field education–to make matters more complicated I caught a nagging cold that I’m still trying to shake.  In between there, however, I learned a couple things that I wanted to share:

  • This week on Sunday, I led the adult Bible study at United.  Though it was sparsley attended and we’re working through a sometimes less-than-thrilling book on evangelism and growing the church, we had a chance to look at two Biblical texts together–Luke 14 and Genesis 18.  We were examining both in light of our theme: hospitality.  I learned a thing or two about hospitality that summer I spent on the US-Mexico border, sleeping with then others in the kitchen of  a pastor who had but two rooms in his home.  But this study moved me in a new way: it was striking to me that in Luke 14, we the church often ally ourselves with God the banquet-giver, when we are actually more prone to those making excuses about not attending the banquet.  In turn, we don’t invite others, and in turn, our church doesn’t grow in diversity and fullness.  In Genesis 18, Abraham hustles around to feed and ‘house’ the three strangers who happen his way.  In turn, God blesses he and Sarah with the promise of a child.  Our book quoted Henri Nouwen as saying that in true hospitality I am free to be me and you are free to be you.  In that sense, it follows that hospital evangelism doesn’t infringe on who people are but rather calls them to be blessed by others and by God.
  • In our Hebrew exegesis class, we started by studying the story of Babel in Genesis 11.  Though often read as a text warning against pride and arrogance, we noted how God forcibly makes God’s people diverse; perhaps God forordained such diversity.  The distinction of stranger and neighbor is certainly interesting in light of the primevial history…
  • Finally, our newest text in Hebrew class is Genesis 12:1-4: God’s promises to Abraham.  During our discussion today, our professor mentioned that there are about four ‘falls’ in the Bible really, extending from Adam and Eve, to Cain and Abel, to the flood, and to Babel.  To each God provides grace and forgiveness, and the primevial legacy of human sin rests on God’s particular redemptive promises of blessing to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-4. 
  • Our legacy of human sin is pervasive, but it’s God’s coming down to us, stooping to love us where we are–genuine hospitality–that strikes me in the story of Babel, with Abraham, and at the banquet in Luke.

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