Saturday 15 June 
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Complex Characters - Connect Groups

Week One


Generations of complexity


Famine, stars, naming, visiting, laughter, tears, binding, birthing... Reflecting on the complex characters of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar and their descendants. These lives we read about in Genesis were shaped by history, geography and meteorology — just like ours. Like us, they were complex individuals reacting to a complex, pressured environment. Forces of nature, personality and spirituality come together in a complicated family.

Read Genesis 15: 1-6

Abram is comforted looking up at the stars and reflecting on God’s promise. When were you last able to look up on a clear night and see the stars? How does it make you feel when you look at up at the stars in the night sky?

Isn’t it strange to think that there are stars that shone down on Abram that shine down on us now? If you were a star up there in space looking down at Earth through a speeded up time-lapse from Abram’s time to now — what would you see?

Read Genesis 18: 1-15

Let’s get into Sarah’s mindset. A woman, advance in age, she’s just been kneading flour to make cakes at the drop of a hat. She’s in the tent, perhaps tidying up, or sitting down for a wee rest and she hears these strange words from these strange guests — she’s going to have a son. And she laughs.

Laughter can communicate a lot of different things. What do you imagine her laugh to be like? One of shock? Disbelief? Genuine amusement? Confusion? Bitterness? Hope? Ruefulness? What was behind her laughter and then her denial?

Read Genesis 21: 1-21

Abraham and Sarah are not flawless heroes, they are complex characters. The story of this great patriarch and matriarch is one of longing, promise, parenthood and faithfulness — but also of bitterness, rejection and shame. In this reading Sarah’s laughter in verse 6 makes a sharp juxtaposition with Hagar’s tears in verse 16.

How does it make you feel — that Abraham and Sarah — like many people we meet in the Bible — are both sympathetic and unsympathetic?