Sarah and Sodom: Where is New Life?

October 11, 2016


This is part of our current worship series on Genesis, "Life's Many Creations."


Ask someone when their life changed, a pivotal moment and they will most likely name a difficult time. Moments of brokenness are also moments of new Creation…..


Creation and Recreation


Genesis 18 and 19 offer two very different stories. Chapter 18 tells the story of Abraham offering hospitality to three strangers and Sarah laughing as one of these angelic travelers mentions that she will become pregnant. She laughs because she is old and is barren. 


On the other hand, Genesis 19 has the three travelers going to the city of Sodom where Lot’s son-in-laws laugh at the mention of the destruction of Sodom. 


In the story, Sodom might seem like the place where new life will emerge. Sodom is lush and fertile, whereas Sarah is barren. The issue becomes creation and recreation. Genesis is a cycle of how new beginnings happen in often lifeless areas, while the places that are full of abundance fall away to make space for something new. 


For both Sarah and Sodom, though, something new is occurring. Sarah’s story contains hospitality towards the strangers and a willingness to live into this unbelievable call. Sodom is unwilling to welcome anything new, though, including the angelic travelers who visit.


Broken and Fractured 


For those of us who have broken a bone know, there is a difference between a clean break and a fractured bone. A clean break is when the bone breaks quickly. It is usually more painful, but it also heals quicker. It also requires less time in a cast, because it can heal on its own. The healing has to do more with the tissues of the bone coming back into alignment. 


Or you could fracture a bone. A bone fracture sits dormant, unable to heal itself because of the tension on the bone. The doctors have to break it all the way manually. Something fractured cannot heal itself, yet something broken can heal anew.


I think of fractured systems that are allowed to continue, and the dysfunction worsens because it is ignored or unknown. Maybe getting to the place of new Creation requires identifying and naming the broken places within our lives, religious institutions, families, and ourselves.


Only once it is named can we invite others in and healing can begin. 


Broken Chances for New Creation


There is this whole exchange with Abraham and God that is almost humorous. Abraham makes a deal to save Sodom if he can identify fifty righteous people. The number keeps dwindling down because he can’t find anyone. In the story of Genesis 18 and 19, the place that "righteousness" comes from will be the newborn baby Issac, who will be born from a place that appeared barren. 


With all of the resources and fertile land, Sodom did not seem like a broken city, but it was fractured. Maybe some people noticed it, but they couldn’t or wouldn't name it. 


Ask someone when their life changed, a pivotal moment, a defining experience that made them shift course, and they will most likely recall a difficult time. Perhaps, they will even name a time when they felt broken. These aren't moments to feel shame and hide from. Rather they are opportunities for new creation. 

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