A love story?

Today we heard a story about families, the story of Isaac and Rebekah and how they found new life in one another.  It is a love story. (Read it here)

Which comes as a blessed relief after the last couple of weeks in which we have heard gruesome stories of neglect and violence: Abraham sending one son, Ishmael, to die in the desert (read it here) and then attempting to murder the other son, Isaac (read it here).  If this were not enough Isaac’s devoted mother Sarah then dies (probably of shock).  This is a story sorely in need of some love. 

At the centre of today’s story is a well.  A steward has been sent on a journey to find a wife for Isaac.  Praying for God to help him succeed, he stops at a well: if God sends a woman who will draw water not only for him but also for his camels (all ten of them) she will surely be the one.

No sooner has the prayer been uttered than Rebekah appears and immediately offers to draw water not just for the steward but also for the camels.  

This was some task: quenching the thirst of one weary traveller is one thing but ten thirsty camels is quite another.
Yet Rebekah cheerfully and willingly gives of her time and her energy.
Of course what Rebekah is drawing from the well is not just common or garden water – it is life itself.  Without water the steward would not last long (though presumably his camels might last a little longer).  Rebekah ensures his survival and goes on to equip him for his journey.  Convinced that she is indeed the one the steward takes Rebekah back with him to be Isaac’s wife.

Meanwhile Isaac has been at another well – the well at Beer-El-Roi.  It was at this well that God provided water, and so life, for Isaac’s brother Ishmael when their father sent him into the desert.  

We don’t know what Isaac was doing at this well. But we do know that he has just come close to being sacrificed by his own father, who bound him, laid him on an altar and took a knife to his throat

We do know that his mother has just died.  We know that Isaac was grieving.  So it is poignant to find him here at the well where God saved his brother’s life. Perhaps Isaac has come here also seeking strength, something to sustain him, seeking for his life to somehow be rescued too.

From another well God sends him Rebekah, whom he loved, who comforted him in his grief and who bore for him the sons who were to continue the family line and bring life to the people of God. 

No family is perfect. 

Sadly there are times when our experience of our own families can cause some of the grief and pain we read in Isaac’s story.  

But we are also part of THIS family, God’s family.  And, as God gave Isaac Rebekah to draw for him the water of life, so God has given us one another.  

Just as for each of us there will be times on the journey when we are the ones dying of thirst and grief like Ishmael and Isaac.  So there will also be times when we have the strength and energy of Rebekah when we can use our resources to bring hospitality and healing to each other.

We are truly fortunate to be part of this family, God’s family.  We know that we can rely on this family to dance with us when we play the flute and to mourn with us when we wail. (read it here)

There are others who are not so fortunate.

In the gospel this morning Jesus tells us that it is the infants, the little ones, who know the truth of God’s love.  Yet this week the papers of full to bursting of scandalous stories about our refusal to listen to what the little ones are telling us.  When they wailed, it turns out that we did not mourn – instead we passed a dossier to the cabinet who promptly put it in a drawer, or a shredder or whatever.  

We have also read this week about various investigations undertaken by police and government that have failed to make a difference.  

The charity Kids Company is asking us to sign a petition calling for an independent task force to undertake a complete overhaul of the way we protect and care for vulnerable children.  You can find out more about their campaign HERE and by watching the video below

We are so fortunate to be a part of God’s family, we are so fortunate to know the reality of God’s enduring love, and we are fortunate to have an opportunity to offer that love to little one who, like Isaac and Ishmael, suffer brutality, neglect and violence.

We started this morning with a love story – the story of God’s love for his children – perhaps, for some of God’s little ones at least, could make that story come true.