Given By Rev. Madison Shockley May 14, 2017
Today’s reading from Genesis tells the story of Cain and Abel. From this passage comes the phrase, “my brother’s keeper.” This phrase has shaped our culture. It touches on what it means to be in human community, to live together. Unfortunately, some have used this passage’s mention of the mark of Cain to justify enslaving African people. This is yet another example of when you take something metaphorically as literal, you end up with the absurd. Today, we look to this passage to talk about human nature. We have not changed since this passage began to be passed down through the generations. It is an age-old question, what do we owe to each other. It has been asked by philosophers, moralists, theologians, and politicians for thousands of years. In our present day, our federal budget is a sign of what the government thinks we owe each other. Cain (someone corrupted by the lust for power and privilege) kills the one who stood in his way, Abel. Into this state of human nature, comes the Divine One who brings accountability. We are accountable to our brothers and our sisters. When one seeks to dominate others, we break the equality due every person under God. When someone gains power over a large society, he/she may rule with the same brutal impulse as Cain showed. We are left with two modes of relationships. The first is motivated by domination and the second is through mutually affirming love. We must choose which we will try to live in society with. It has implications on health care, environment, race relations, taxes, war, immigration, etc. Let us never be compliant.