Tuesday, August 19, 2014

7. It's Not Too Late (We Make the Road by Walking)


1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about a time when you almost gave up, but are glad you didn't.

3.  What are some critical issues in today's world — or in our personal lives — when we might say "It's too late" or "It's impossible"?

4.  What makes you laugh?  Why do you think Sarah laughed in this story?


5. Try saying "It's not too late" when you're tempted to be cynical or give up.  Or practice the art of "the second laugh."  The first laugh comes as a reflex when we think something is impossible.  The second laugh comes as a choice when we laugh at our lack of faith.


6.  After a few moments of silence, complete this sentence as your prayer:  "Living God, it's not too late to change my mind about . . . "

We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation ~ by Brian D. McLaren, 2014


Bonnie Jacobs said...

4. What makes you laugh? Why do you think Sarah laughed in this story?

Four of us met yesterday in our face-to-face group to discuss chapter seven. I want to say something about the fact that Sarah laughed.

Sarah laughed

Quoting from Genesis 18:10-12, this chapter's assigned reading:

"Then one [visitor] said, '...your wife Sarah shall have a son.' Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself..."

One of our group questioned how the men even heard Sarah, if she "laughed to herself." Anyway, what the man says Sarah said (18:13, about "bearing" a child) is not what the other verse says she said (18:12, about the "pleasure" of having a child). And why is it so important to point out that Sarah laughed? At 90, she was long past menopause. I'd laugh, too.

Why doesn't anyone ever take notice that Abraham also laughed? Oh, yes, he laughed, and it was Abraham who wondered if a 90-year-old woman could "bear" a child. Take a look at Genesis 17:17, which says...

Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, "Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?"

It was then that Abraham was told to name the child Isaac, a name which means "laughter." Why? Maybe because Abraham laughed. Yet no one — NO ONE — I've ever talked to about this has been aware that Abraham laughed first. I've heard preachers talk about Sarah's lack of faith, because she laughed, but she isn't the only one who laughed.

Was there something different about the way each of them laughed? Under "Activate" (#5), McLaren talks about two kinds of laughter.

"The first laugh comes as a reflex when we think something is impossible. The second laugh comes as a choice when we laugh at our lack of faith."

Maybe that second kind of laughter indicates JOY, but I think Abraham and Sarah BOTH thought having a baby in their old age was impossible. I think any laughing for joy came when they discovered she was pregnant. Or when she actually held her own baby Isaac in her arms.

Do you think either of them laughed at his or her own lack of faith? In other words, do you think Abraham's laugh was somehow different in kind from Sarah's?

Shirley said...

Bonnie's questions remind us also of the male domination in the interpretation/reflection of events. The laughter of both seems to be laughter at the absurdity of the promise from their realistic perspective which also can be interpreted as a lack of faith.

The incident is also reflected by the saying "He who laughs lasts". It seems to me that both laughed at the impossibility of the promise to receive the gift that was to them a sad reality that they would not have children. They laughed rather than be further hurt by a reminder of this disappointment.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Thanks, Shirley, for pointing out the effects of patriarchy, that men in biblical times and now have always had the last WORD, if not always the last LAUGH.