Fractured Family | Genesis 4:1-7
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of 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 face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:1-7 | ESV
I came across this painting – The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve by William Blake. It was new to me. It haunts me. “I have gotten a man with the Lord,” she said. It’s as if she had an epiphany with her firstborn that she in fact was partnering with God in the man-making business. Cain was gain. He was the auspicious beginning of begetting. The promise of a new day under a cursed sky. It’s a birth brimming with hope. And then another son is born. Vapor. Breath. Abel. Some suppose his name to be prophetic of his short life span. But then maybe the curse was pressing down upon Eve in the pain through which new life comes. With no chronological markers, we’re left to wonder when what happened. Adam lives 930 years and has sons and daughters (yes, truly, the fish was this big). Even if the prime childbearing years were, say, from 30 to 830 (using the last 100 years for retirement – at least, that sounds like a good plan), you can pack a lot of kids into eight or nine centuries. I see a clan spreading over the horizon, with Cain and Abel two key figures in the clan. Or maybe this is just a family of four and the narrator simply isn’t concerned with details such as where Cain got his wife or who was around to even want him dead. I’ll stick with the clan picture. Growing family spreads. Sons and daughters, many births. But no deaths. Yet. And then it comes, and when it does it’s not the natural following of nature’s altered course. It’s murder. Fracture. A fissured family as Abel’s blood is spilled over his own offering and earth with gaping mouth drinks in the blood. Accursed irrigation. Earth screams. God hears. And while we read the narrative of God’s interaction with Cain over his brother’s murder, an interrogation much like that of his parents in the garden, what we don’t see is the scene of Blake’s painting. A mother poured over her son’s body in grief. The first Madonna. A father in shock. And the exposed killer fleeing in despair, the protecting mark of his shame following. Mother and father twice bereaved. Would that fractures were restricted to this page, that we could close the book and then gaze upon a humanity whole and one and at peace. But daily it’s the fractures. Too many fractures. Spreading, multiplying, mutating. It haunts me.
What fractures have you experienced in your family? In marriage? In your neighborhood? In your church? How have you found healing?
God, pour out your favor over our fractured lives, our fractured homes, our fractured marriages, our fractured churches, our fractured world. Let each fracture become a crack through which light can shine, and new hope be birthed. Through Christ.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.