So, we are now in the season of Lent. And it may seem early for Lent this year, but keep in mind every three years we will have an early Easter. But I have decided to do something slightly different to prepare for each week for Lent. I was talking to Rev. Braun from Providence Presbyterian Church and he had a good idea about preparing for Lent, which he got from First Presbyterian Church of Stroudsburg.
Each week of Lent I will be focusing on Covenants. And the covenants we find will all be in the Old Testament! We rarely get the chance to focus on the Old Testament as our primary text, but I think we should try. And as I was preparing for this week’s sermon, which is about how the “Covenant defines God.” I had to re-read and study the beginning chapters of Genesis. I don’t want to give too much away about what my sermon is about, but it does focus on God’s covenant to Noah after the great flood. But thinking about, how God came with the conclusion to flood the earth is kinda heartbreaking. But again, I am not going to re-iterate my prepared sermon on here, you all just got to tune in on Sunday!
But I was trying to figure out what led God to bring the great flood. And during my studying, I came upon the story of Cain and Abel, which is from Genesis 4. We may all be familiar with this story. The story in which Cain takes the life of another human, which happens to be his brother. This was the first murder committed in the Bible.
I wonder how God must have felt, when He realized that Cain’s anger and rage towards his brother would be the outcome of murder. God must be wondering whether the people He created were capable of such a gruesome and heinous act. Makes me wonder if it is just human nature to act in such ways of violence? We always assume that the way that we raise our children will reflect what they will become in life. Some cases can be true, there is a lot of learned behavior when it comes with raising children. But there are also unlearned behavior, the behavior that just seems impulsive. Are acts of violence considered to be unlearned behavior?
The reason I bring this up, is that I had my “Cain and Abel” sort of moment. No it’s not murder… but I just witnessed my son Ben, hit my daughter Norah for the first time. I was a bit shocked because he had never done that before, and I can’t figure out how he learned to behave in such a way. It’s not like he learned it from preschool since he was only there for a few weeks about a year and a half ago. And mostly he has always been with me and any time the TV is on I watch it with him so he doesn’t watch anything he is not supposed to watch. But somehow he knew that if he got mad, you show your anger through a fist.
I wondered if god felt the same kind of disappointment with Cain in Genesis. I wondered if God said things like, “I never taught you to do that?!” Makes you also wonder how many times we break God’s heart when we ignore people in need, talk behind people’s back, hurt each other physically or psychologically. And God had to think, “I never taught you this?!”
In this world, we will have to realize that when it comes with our children, grandchildren, and young people, we can raise them the right way, but sometimes things can happen that we never expect. Not everything we learn in this world is learned behavior. Teaching our young ones and ourselves how we deal with anger, disappointment, and depression is key for a healthy environment. I never taught Ben how to hit anyone, but it happened. Not everything is learned, and somethings are involuntary reactions. Here is another example of unlearned reactionary behavior.
I was watching the Special Olympics a long time ago and there was a runner competing who was born blind. He ran the race and when he finished, he raised his arms in arm to celebrate victory. How in the world did he know how to do that?
Like God, we set up a prefect place for our young ones and do our best to protect them from danger and give them the right example of behavior. Like God, we made our little Garden of Eden. Like God, we taught our children what is good and what is bad. Like God, who sent Jesus Christ to us to be an example of tenderness and care and wisdom for us, we do with our children. We show our children the example to be. Yet, even all of this taken place, God knows, we will find our way that is prone to sin and possible violence. The question is when violence and misfortune and aggression happens, how will we react to what we witness. Will it be revenge? Will it be compassion? Or will we just ignore it. That is the choice we can make. And maybe our choice to how we react to cases of aggression will make all the difference in how our young ones will behave in the future.
Let’s go back to the Cain and Abel story. What did God react to Cain when he found out about the murder? God had compassion over Cain. He gave Cain a mark of protection and sent Cain on his way. I am sure if we changed the way we react to something shocking and unbelievable we can make a difference in the world. If instead of being angry to witnessed acts of aggression, we do what God did, which was feel hurt, sure, but also send guidance and protection against other acts of aggression that could happen in the future.
As we move into Easter, each week in Lent will teach us something about how God will continue a covenant with us. We will explore how God will find ways to reach out to us and why Jesus was the perfect answer to all learned and unlearned behavior and social interactions.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).