Saturday, June 25, 2016

How Did We Get Here? More Than Surviving

More Than Surviving                                                           6/19/16

Genesis 21:8-21, Romans 8:31-39


To the Glory of God.


“We were meant to thrive”

Does life feel like so much of your energy is simply about getting through a day, or a week, or a month?  “If I just get through this…”   Do you feel that you are surviving?  Barely?  

In the beginning of the year, we sought to answer the question:  Who are we?  We are members:  of Christ’s body, and of a Christian congregation.  This summer, we’ll explore the question:  How did we get here?  We will look into the history of Western Civilization, its themes and values.  We will look at how the values of ages long past shape us today, and how they are related to Scripture.

If you are interested in the text beyond Scripture that I will be referencing, it is “Civilization:  A New History of the Western World” by Roger Osbourne.

We start our story with beginnings.  Today, we will look at the era of oral history, history before writing.  One of the great lessons of this time is that human existence is more than survival.

When we call upon what we’ve heard of this time, we might think of how difficult daily existence must have been.  But historians see clues that tell a bigger story. We see a sense of purpose, growth and logic.   For example,

--The cave art speaks to the human need to communicate

--Humans in Europe add farming to hunting and fishing

--there is movement of goods and trade from a large geographic area through the super highway river systems of Europe

--In Cumbria, 4000 years ago, a discovery of an area with enough debris for over 45,000 ax heads.

--in early Celtic Culture:  fostering talented children instead of next of kin for leadership roles in tribes

--the emergence of customary law, rooted in family, where the individual was seen in the context of society, and land was redistributed yearly in order to avoid too much accumulation

It is not only what we know of early history, but what we know of the beginning pages of Scripture, that speak to humans doing more than just surviving:

--In Genesis 4:26, “at that time men began to call on the name of the Lord”, we have public worship

--customary laws seen in Lamech, seeking protection after his law breaking

--the cities referenced to in Genesis 1-11

--the architecture of Babel and the Ark


It reminds me of when I was in Israel, and I saw one of the generally agreed upon oldest structures in the world, some 10,000 years old.  Is there anything good we make today that will still stand 10,000 years from now?

Yes, the work of surviving took more time in the era of oral history than it might for many of us today.  Life was difficult.  And our technological innovation certainly bring a sense of ease into our lives.  But we are made for more than survival.


Abraham sends his son Ishmael and Hagar his mother out into the wildnerness.

 Marilynne Robinson

“This is how life goes—we send our children into the wilderness.  Some of them on the day they are born, its seems, for all the help we can give them.  Some of them seem to be a kind of wilderness unto themselves.  But there must be angels there, too, and springs of water.  Even that wilderness, the very habitation of jackals, is the Lord’s I need to bear this in mind.”                 -Gilead, 119


God promises to be present

God speaks to Abraham in his distress

God promises Ishmael’s life a purpose

God guides Hagar

God hears the cries and hurt

God shows the way.


This is a specific story for Israel’s life.  It is chosen today as an example of beginning generations facing difficulty, but also a deep sense of purpose and humanity.


There are special promises from Paul to the Roman congregation, and all to you and I, in our own way, in the wilderness.


God is over and beyond anything else.


(Me & God, Josh Turner song)


As a believer,

          --is God against the one he sent his son into the world for?

          --is God condemning those he has chosen and justified?

          --is God separating himself from his people who go through trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or sword?



We are more than (Survivors) conquerors through Christ.

Death, life, angels, demons, present, future, any powers, height, depth, anything else in all the creation:  it cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ.


This theme of beginnings passed down to us orally, speak to us old wisdom, the importance of communication and connection and community, the proper place of self,  and the proper mix of local and movement in the grand world,   Life has always been about more than survival.  For all life comes from God.


What can we look back and find valuable for life today?

1.     Many in our world can thrive, not just survive

2.     people of faith come alongside to support those who’s full attention is given to surviving

3.     solving issues locally, and as a sense of family

4.     place surviving and thriving into God’s realm.







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