About this blog: Discussing religion, spirituality and values. About the writers: Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. Janet Marshall is the religion editor for The Free Lance-Star.
God Will Provide
Today, hundreds of local Muslims gathered at the Fredericksburg Field House for Eid prayers. They’re celebrating Eid al Adha, the day Muslims remember when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son.
It’s not one of my favorite Scripture stories. After all, I have sons. They’re about the age tradition often puts Isaac–or Ishmael, as the Muslims believe–when his father took him up to the mountain. (And, there are moments when it wouldn’t seem like so much of a sacrifice.) But really, I cannot imagine being asked to kill either one of them. The verses are silent about the boy’s mother. But I would be quizzing Abraham pretty hard about the specifics of this commandment.
If the mother is Hagar, as the Muslims believe, Scripture is clear on her feelings toward her son. While wandering in the desert, she is overcome with emotion when it seems Ishmael will die. If it’s Sarah, we know she waited decades for her son. Either way, I think it would take a tremendous amount of faith on the part of the mother. After all, she’s trusting in a revelation not given to her.
Today, the Imam talked about what the sacrifice means to us. He said it was a test for Abraham, to see where his priorities are. "Where is Allah in your life?" he asked. "Is he number one? Number two? Number 10? Number 100?"
Compelling question. And it gets to the heart of my discomfort over the story of Abraham sacrificing his son. I know how I would answer that command. And it wouldn’t involve taking my son up to a mountain.
God tests the holiest the most, the Iman suggested today. So I’m probably safe.
But it is interesting, I think, that this celebration happens during Advent, when churches are telling congregants to prepare their hearts for the coming of the Christ child. It’s another time to explore your priorities and see where God fits in.
It’s an examination I hate to make–ironically, especially during Christmastime. I’m busy doing 100 things for Christmas, most involving raising kids or writing stories.
Both Advent and Eid al Adha involve some soul-searching.
They also both have happy endings.
In the end, God provided a lamb for Abraham to sacrifice, instead of his son. And on Christmas day, he provided again.