Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sun. July 31, 2011 (Walter Bergen)

We were delighted to have Walter and Janet Bergen with us again, members from our very earliest days 25 years ago. Walter continued our summer series of talks on women in the bible by recalling the stories about Hagar (Genesis 16 and 21). Abraham obtained the slave girl he called "Hagar" during one of his visit to Egypt. Sarah and Abraham are portrayed as believing God's promise that they would conceive a son, but as time passed, they took matters into their own hands by using Hagar the slave-girl as a concubine [she is called "wife" in Genesis 16.3, but still referred to as "your slave-girl" three verses later; concubines could be used as surrogate wombs and their children could be fully adopted if the master so decided]. However, Hagar's success as a surrogate womb only made matters more difficult, for Hagar is not portrayed as being loved or rewarded by either Abraham or Sarah, nor as loving in return. She had merely been a tool to be used for their purposes. Hagar and Ishmael were unexpectedly expelled from the protection and support of the camp--against all local customs and practices--and left to die, being somehow sustained by God. Walter portrayed Hagar's life as a story of sexual abuse, of treating a woman as an object rather than someone to be respected, and of a woman being discarded when she was no longer useful to the 'real' family. How would the story have differed if either Abraham or Sarah had ever shown love to Hagar? This sordid tale shows "Father Abraham" and Sarah as spiritual and ethical failures before they finally developed into people of faith. Are there any Sarahs in our lives, any Abrahams who need to be guided, or any Hagars or Ishmaels needing love and protection? [JEK]

Listen to the sermon audio MP3 recording from Sunday, July 31st, 2011 using your browser's preferred media player.



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