Let yourself become open to God and the knowledge that comes from the Word. Ask God for peace at this time.
Genesis 4:1-16 (NRSV)
Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced a man with the help of the LORD.” Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the LORD said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.” Then the LORD said to him, “Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.” And the LORD put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
The capacity of God to astound is beyond measure. One generation removed from the first humans, brother kills brother. The divine command “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) was horribly violated and there was no overlooking the offense. Abel’s blood cried out. Cain’s farming days were over and he had to leave what was left of his family and wander. Sin has consequences, but God does not react in kind. Cain will leave his livelihood and wander the land, but no one will do to him what he did to his brother. In what can only be called an act of grace, God marked Cain so that life would continue.
Forgiveness is not easy. A betrayed spouse forgives the painful indiscretions of the other spouse and does not act in kind. African Americans whose family members were gruesomely murdered in a Charleston, South Carolina, church forgive the white killer who had been welcomed into their Bible study. They choose not to act in kind. In these instances, the sorrow and hurt were not overlooked, but were met head on by what can only be called acts of grace. Perhaps there is no better display of being made in the image of God than this capacity to show grace and forgiveness in times of hurt and loss.
Forgiving God, grant us the grace to be forgiving people. Instead of blaming, accusing, and deriding our fellows, help us to be faithful bearers of your loving and forgiving image. Amen.
Go with God.