What do the stories of the Garden of Eden, Noah’s ark and God’s call to Abraham have in common? All of them were likely told by Hebrews sitting around campfires between Egypt and Canaan, between slavery and the Promised Land.
Over the past month, I have been thinking about the Old Testament and campfires more than I usually do, and the experience reminds me why I love the Old Testament so dearly. At the heart of the Old Testament is storytelling at its best, and these stories ultimately point to God’s grace, mercy and peace (often at the expense of the Bible’s most hard-headed and hard-hearted individuals).
Netflix has nothing on the Old Testament in terms of adult content. The stories that are told in the Old Testament are almost as graphic as anything that appears on cable television. Almost.
The Old Testament is not sanitized. Life is messy, and the ancient Israelites through whom God brings the Hebrew Bible into being do not pretend otherwise. I, for one, admire their honesty.
David’s life is messy (as we are learning in this month’s sermon series on Lectionary readings from 2 Samuel), but God uses him mightily anyway. Sometimes, David is part of the problem; often, he is part of the solution (which is to say that David, like the rest of us, is human).
Soon, we at St. James will find ourselves sitting around a campfire near the pavilion when the church’s Family Fun Night takes place Saturday, August 18. As a bonus, there is an Eagle Scout project in the works about which people among us are starting to get excited.
When God gathers us around these campfires at last, I hope that we will be able to share stories that elicit laughter and goodwill. I hope that we will be able to be honest and appropriate with each other as we nurture one another, especially children, in the faith that God gives to us.
We belong to the same world that God created in the beginning. God is with us when all is not well among us (just ask Noah), and we are God’s people, who sometimes wander from the path that God sets before us (like Abraham and his descendants), but, by God’s grace, there’s always space for us around the campfire where the warmth of God’s love in Jesus Christ glows.