After my misgivings about Abraham’s relationship with his sons yesterday, Genesis 24 and 25 come as a bit of a relief. At the end of his life, he sees his sons settled, with families of their own. The focus of the story is already moving on to Isaac, with the story of his marriage to Rebekah. Its start is guided by God, and (although there’ll be complications later) it is a lifelong love.
And at the end of a (very) long life, Abraham is laid to rest beside his beloved wife Sarah. The journeying is over, and he has followed God in faith to the point where he can see before he dies that the promise is beginning to be fulfilled. And to my immense relief (and something I don’t remember noticing before) he’s buried by both of his sons together. So I can hope that there was reconciliation in that family, even though we don’t read much about it.
The story continues – and now it passes to the next generation to follow God. How much difference will it make that Isaac and those who come after him have to rely on stories of their ancestors, as well as on their own experience of God? A legacy and a body of wisdom is beginning to be laid down, which has grown over the millennia since and down to our time – generation after generation have followed Abraham in the faith of the promise.
What are we leaving to the next generation to help them to journey in faith?
The wisdom of mortality
One resource I find helpful in prayer is the ‘Pearls of Life‘, available from the Iona Community. It’s a set of beads for reflection on our life with God. One of the last, black, beads in the sequence is called the ‘Night Pearl’. As I use the pearls, this one reminds me of the reality of death – in a good way! It’s followed, after all, by the ‘Resurrection Pearl’ – I know that, like Abraham, I will live forever with God. But here on earth, my time and capability is in the end limited. And whether that’s about my lifetime on earth or my time as Rector of Wednesfield, I will one day move on and leave to others most of what I’ve started here. That means that it’s not all my responsibilty. And knowing that, knowing that I am just part of a much longer story, helps me to keep hold of such sanity as I have.
I don’t have to do everything.
I have a part to play in God’s story. Just not all the way through.