Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Birthright (a tidbit from a sermon)

Here's the thing to know about this story about Esau giving up his birthright: it's basically an ethnic joke. "How dumb are the Edomites?" is the set-up, and the punchline is, "The Edomites are so dumb, they'd give up their birthright for a bowl of lentils."

The truth is, Esau is a pretty decent, hardworking guy, just trying to do the best he can. Jacob, meanwhile, is a con artist with a great deal of chutzpah, always looking for the main chance.

Which one of these characters do you think most people are like?

As many of you know, I work with a program called Confirm not Conform. For the adult program, there is an exercise we ask people to do where they keep track of how they spend their time over the course of a week, marking it down on a chart. When the class meets, we ask them to take a look at that time chart and compare it with those things that are most important to them. Almost invariably, people see that they spend the most time on the things that mean the least to them, and the least time on the things that mean the most.

I think we are often being asked to give up our birthright for a bowl of lentils. But the question this raises is, What is your birthright? What is it you are being asked to give up for the sake of someone else's agenda? Because it is only when we are able to name our birthright that we are going to be able to see when someone is asking us to give it to them.

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