Church Life, Genesis

Where to?

(Thinking about Genesis 12:1-9, Proper 5A)

With a brand-new college graduate at home, we've
been thinking a lot about the seasons of transition in our lives. I ask every
day about a different friend: "What are her plans?" or "Remind me, what did he
study?" One is going to London and some are already in New York, since Brooklyn is the Hiptastic University Post-Grad Housing Lottery.

And although I read a farewell email to the Hiptastic Parents' e-List that described turning the basement into an apartment for Junior, I think it's safe to say few are staying
close to home. If they did, we would wonder why.

 
One of the scripture lessons this week sees Abram
being called by God to go out into the wilderness, to be the patriarch of a new
people.

Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12:1-3, NRSV)

God asks everything of Abram, and Abram, God bless him, goes.

 
He goes although he cannot predict what will happen
next.
 
He goes although in his time and place sticking
with your family meant everything, and only the worst and least responsible sort
of people would have thought about doing otherwise.
 

Sometimes being faithful to God takes surprising
turns, at least in the eyes of other people.

But here is the part we may forget, as we are packing our young things off to big cities or graduate programs, giving them one last piece of advice:

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.  Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. (Genesis 12:4, NRSV)

Moving faithfully and surprisingly belongs not only to the young. Responding to God is for all of us, even when it might mean the inconvenient packing up of electronic equipment or whatever modern day equivalent of chattel would go with you (yarn, books, stuffed animals?). I continue to grapple with how to be faithful, with a fond hope that I can be that faithful person while living on this same street that I have loved for the past ten years, in this small and wonderful city that has been home for twenty-one.

And if moving a family feels like a challenge, how do we move forward in the life of a church, with our attachments to place and decoration and habit and memory and people?

It seems easy for the young. I moved to New York City at 21 and lived in a little room. I took my clothes, a dozen of my favorite books and my Smith-Corona typewriter.

Can we grown-up people, can whole communities, pare down to the necessities? Can we, when God says "go!" simply answer, "Where to?"

3 thoughts on “Where to?”

  1. Excellent post. I have moved numerous times over the years–with and without family. Our move to seminary in Aug. will be the first for my husband and me. He is excited, but is a pack rat and we’ll be downsizing to a 1 bedroom apartment. Thanks for your thoughts on Abram and the connection to our lives today. Peace.

  2. oh my….we are working on such similiar lines right now, aren’t we…Great post to ponder!

  3. i’m preaching on this on sunday. i’m claiming that it’s not a place but a possibility — which works for young and old, i hope. it’s nice to have a conversation partner though.
    i find this an interesting question for you. for me too. but being an interim. interesting. no?

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