Dear Friends in Christ,
While keeping an eye and ear to unfolding news, I spent the week in our shared resource, Common Prayer and the Bible texts assigned for this weekend’s preaching. Never have I spend so much time meditating on the story of Cain and Abel. The verses at the top share an exchange just before Cain lures his brother Abel out to a field where he murders him.
It didn’t have to happen.
But Cain had been humiliated when God rejected his bloodless offering (I know, I know, but it made sense at the time). Cain was a farmer, not a herder like his brother Abel. His brother had bested him, and Cain felt diminished. His face fell, and he was angry to have been humiliated and rejected.
The Lord attempts to intervene, acknowledging Cain’s feelings and offering a peaceful way out—just do the right thing (an animal offering) and everything will be okay. The Lord understood the nearness of sinful temptation to lash out violently from that place of humiliation and dejection, but said you must master that temptation.
Mastery requires Self-Control, the last of the “fruits of the Spirit” that Paul shared in a letter to the Galatians many centuries later. Gee, people were still wrestling with the very same dynamics of temptation to violent outburst.
And aren’t we even now? How much violence has occurred from a place of humiliation and rejection that wasn’t handled well?
The old story has plenty of current truth and insight for us today, particularly given record- breaking rates of homicide and domestic violence in our city. I’m praying for the gift of self- control for everyone who sorely needs it.
Peace, Pastor Lisa
PS: THIS WEEKEND: A worship video using our Common Prayer book, page 100 and a sermon on Curses and Blessings. Also, the next Podcast in the Redeemer Lives series: “Faith in Hard Times” with Joyce Johnson. Head to the webpage for both on Sunday: www.redeemermilwaukee.org.