Storying Cain and Abel

28 Feb

Tonight at Ecclesia we jumped into the story of Cain and Abel. The story is found in Genesis chapter 4. It may be helpful to recap that we are using a general outline that you can understand the Bible as a story in 7 acts.
Act 1: Creation
Act 2: Disruption
Act 3: Israel
Act 4: Jesus’ Life
Act 5: Jesus’ Death and Resurrection
Act 6: Church Age
Act 7: New Creation

We are covering a total of 24 stories over this year that fall into those 7 acts. Tonight’s story of Cain and Abel is our third story overall (here is the first and here is the second) and our second story that falls into Act 2: Disruption.

I brought up the scene in Luke 24 where the resurrected Christ encounters the disciples on the road to Emmaus he hides his identity (he pulls the ultimate Clark Kent) from them and later in that chapter he appears to his original disciples and in both cases he argues that all of the scriptures were pointing to him. The “true north” of the scriptures is pointing to the death and resurrection of Jesus:

Luke 24
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

So we read the stories of the Hebrew bible to help us understand the crucified and risen Jesus.

REVIEW previous stories

I brought up the IKON for the previous story of Creation and Disruption and asked for people for a recap of the story. The summary of details was pretty poor. We had some crying babies in the room and it was a bit distracting for me and us I think. I do need to think through how I can best make the use of this time to help us get a framework for where we are at in the story.

PREPARE for imaginative listening
Being that this is our 3rd week I asked our group if they could define “imaginative listening”. I got the feedback that it is finding your place in the story. I also added that the Hebrew word for remember “zah-khor” has to do not just with mental recognition but placement. When the Israelites are going into the promised land God tells them that they are to care for the widow, orphan, alien and poor by “remembering” that they were slaves in Egypt and God redeemed them. Their past was to inform their present.

READ the story
I then read the story. You can find my source material for the story here.

RETELL the story

We then did a group retelling. I couldn’t quite come up with props like a shepherd’s staff or pitchfork or stuffed animals last minute so I decided that I would get flannel graph from the kid’s ministry room at St. John’s. They didn’t quite have the full Cain and Abel set so I went with a third alternative. As the group retold the story I posted images from the Brick Testament that went along with the story they told.

IKON the story
I then brought up an image that would represent this weeks story. This will come into play our following session when we recap what has previously occurred. The staff represents the brother Abel and the pitchfork represents the other brother Cain.

DIALOGUE the story
From here we went to retell the story. I laid down a few ground rules.
1) No fast forwarding. N.T. Wright says that our familiarity with a story breeds an unfamiliarity with what actually occured. We are often is such a rush to move forward that we fail to appreciate what is before our eyes.
2) Use this story alone. We all need to be on equal ground for this discussion. We do this not to neglect our bibles or bible commentary notes but we hope that this conversations works as a diving board to jump into the scriptures and to not get caught up too much in technicalities.

My overall feeling is that our dialogue time was a “B”. Which is up from a “C”. One of the things I did for this week was increase the lighting in the room. Last time we had the stage lit up where I am and the crowd dark. This time I evened the lights so we all had the stage together.
I did a little preemptive thinking in regards to the questions I was using and throwing in my two cents ahead of time going into the meeting.

FORWARD the story
At this point I address how all of these stories are just a shadow of Jesus.
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.-Jesus, John 5:39

The religious elite were guilty of bibleolatry. The worship of the idea of the scriptures and not the one they were pointing to. Have you even met someone who knows a lot of the bible but seems to have a cold heart. Chances are they suffer from bibleolatry.

Hebrews 12
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

The blood of Jesus “speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

Both Jesus and Abel had similarities: They were murdered/their murderer was someone close to them (brother and brothers of the same faith)/practicers of of faith with a good heart murdered (or handed over to be murdered) by those whose worship was empty.

Abel’s blood cried out for justice, vengeance, exclusion and a distinct identity as guilty.
Jesus’ blood cried out for embrace, forgiveness and a mark of innocence: “Father forgive them they know not what they do.”-Luke 22:36

“The blood of Abel was not voiceless, and the blood of Jesus was not dumb—it cried so as to be heard amid the
thrones of Heaven, and blessed be God—it spoke for us and not against us! It spoke not worse things, as it might well have done, but better things than that of Abel. It did not demand fiercer vengeance than that which fell upon Cain. It did not ask that we might be driven vagabonds and fugitives upon the face of the earth, and to be at last banished from God into Hell forever, but it cried, “Father, forgive them”! And it prevailed, and the curse was taken away! And a blessing came to the sons of men.”-Charles Spurgeon

The blood of Abel was the blood of the first death of all death’s to come. The blood of Jesus was the blood involved in the death of the one who would destroy death.

“Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Eph. 2:12-13

I then touched on the fact that in the original creation story the earth is in chaos and described as a barren wilderness:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep…-Genesis 1:1-2

God brings beauty and order out of the chaos and barrenness through his word spoke:
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. -Genesis 1:3

I then pointed out that the same God who brought order out of the chaos of creation with his words wants to bring order out of the chaos in our lives through the word of Christ:
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. -2 Corinthians 4:6

In our Huddles we focus primarily on two questions: What is God saying to me? What am I going to do about it?

The lesser word of Abel’s blood leads to despair and pride. Shame and hiding over our mistakes and judgmental attitudes towards those who fail where we do well. We don’t know forgiveness so we can’t offer it to others.

What is God saying to me? Maybe the simple answer is “A better word.”
What am I going to do about it? Choose hope and humility.

The better word of Jesus leads us to hope and humility. When others trash talk us or we don’t measure up to family or work expectations maybe we simply claim “a better word.” When I go to talk about others to I speak the lesser word of the blood of Abel as my filter or do we choose to speak “a better word” about them.

Lastly, it means we go:
And they sang a new song, saying:    “You are worthy to take the scroll    and to open its seals, because you were slain,    and with your blood you purchased for God    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. –Revelation 5:9

It is our job and our call to take the “better word” of the blood of Jesus to whoever has never heard it.


2 Responses to “Storying Cain and Abel”


  1. Storying Noah « The Drama of Scripture - March 14, 2011

    […] those 7 acts. Tonight’s story of Noah is our fourth story overall (here is the first, second and third) and our third story that falls into Act 2: […]

  2. Storying Abraham « The Drama of Scripture - March 28, 2011

    […] those 7 acts. Tonight’s story of Abraham is our fifth story overall (here is the first, second, third and fourth) and our first story that falls into Act 3: […]

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