Dangerous Faith

Draft notes for Sunday Sermon – Trinity +4 2020

Genesis 22

Baptism and Genesis 22

Dangerous faith

Today we have a baptism! And a reading about child sacrifice . . .

Keep Safe! . . . School holidays, Air NZ

Then Covid!

Lockdown . . .

Economy . . .

Who knows? Everyone apparently . . .

Have you had conversations about this with folk?? 

Have you even once asked – ‘where is God in all of this??’

On the planet Zog?? Is God involved?? As Christians surely that is where our focus should be, shouldn’t it? 

Yet all I hear is ‘Lockdown!’ – ‘No Lockdown!’ . . .

Thank you god for giving us a PM who kept us safe . . . Are we the elect of God???

Because where were you in the US or Italy or the UK . . .

It’s a lot more convenient not to have to think of God . . . to avoid God . . .  and if we’re ruthless honest with ourselves, this is precisely what we do, almost all of the time, and it’s why this mornings text is so terrifying – because we don’t want to pay attention to God . . . If the God we encounter in this text seems strangely alien to us . . . is it because we don’t know him??


As good members at St John’s we have four patron Sts – Mary, John, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis

Aslan – is he safe?? 

Good is Not the same as Safe -you have to choose – between the Good and the Safe . . . Cognitive Dissonance

Church is Aslan’s Realm – there is a Lion Loose! 

If you want to be safe – Church is not the right place!

Annie Dillard – Why do people in church seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? … Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us to where we can never return.”

We are going to Baptise Marie today . . . We invoke the name of God . . . blithely?? 

And THEN we have this reading from Genesis . . . Child Sacrifice . . . we are not on safe ground here – and it is not comfortable . . .

But it is a move away from the Safe God story, the God avoidance story . . . It’s a move away from illusion to Reality

God draws Abraham away from all his security blankets – all that keeps him from Reality – all that keeps him Safe

Leave your country – culture – kindred – relationships – father’s house – home – and go to the land I will show you . . .

No Heir – this really Is the end of the line! Ishamel?? No . . . 

Can a child be born to a man who is 100? Can Sarah who is 99 bear a child? Oh that Ishmael might live before you . . . but no . . .

This makes no sense . . . but then, does anything? Have you got COVID figured?? 

God has promised Abram a Son, through Sarah . . . the son of the promise. Isaac

And joy of Joys, Hope beyond all hope! He is . . . and then we come to Gen 22 . . . and it is a terrifying text . . . Not Safe -YET – THIS IS CHRISTIAN LIFE . . . This is THE Exemplar of faith into which we are going to baptise Marie

After these things God tested Abraham. 

Whoa!! . . . Who trusts who? 

The question is not, can we trust God, it is can God trust us to trust him . . . after all if we are charged with living out His purposes . . .

He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 

Abraham is Alert to God

He said, ‘Take your son, 

your only son Isaac,

Just to be clear

whom you love, 

Just to make it abundantly clear what is going going on within Abraham

and go to the land of Moriah, 

and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’ 

So Abraham rose early in the morning

, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt-offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. 

WHAT???? NO discussion???

On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.’ 

OK So Abraham says ‘we are coming back’ WE ARE

Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering and laid it on his son Isaac, 

He laid the Wood on his Son – pay attention here folk . . .

and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. 

Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘Father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ 

Abraham is alert to God – he is alert to Isaac – he is responsive to both – he is attending to both – he loves God, He loves Isaac

Isaac said, ‘The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?’ 

Abraham said, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son.’ So the two of them walked on together.

Abraham Cannot see how this is going to turn out . . . none of us can . . . but he trusts God

When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. 

But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 

Still paying attention in the midst of it all!! He is attentive to God

He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ 

And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt-offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place ‘The Lord will provide’; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’

God is His Life

Jesus is our Life

Meaning of Baptism

We place our life in the hands of the Lion – The one who isn’t safe – The one who Is Good . . .