Tag Archives: Sarah

God’s Outrageous Promise

Genesis 18: 1–15

A Son Promised to Abraham and Sarah

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, ‘My lord, if I find favour with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.’ So they said, ‘Do as you have said.’ And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, ‘Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.’ Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

They said to him, ‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ And he said, ‘There, in the tent.’ Then one said, ‘I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?’ The Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh, and say, “Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?” Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.’ But Sarah denied, saying, ‘I did not laugh’; for she was afraid. He said, ‘Oh yes, you did laugh.’

 

You turn up in the strangest of ways Lord.

As I sit
doing nothing really,
resting from the heat,
taking the air.

As strangers passing by
who I can’t help but invite in,
to offer respite from their journey,
shade from the heat,
an opportunity to wash,
refresh and feed.

And in them,
in that action
you speak to me.

God of presence
how will you appear to me?

Who are you bringing before me today?

Who are the strangers
who have so much to teach me,
to show me,
to point me to you,
to truth,
to hope?

Who are you asking me to entertain,
to feed,
to give rest?

Who are you calling me to tend,
to care for,
to refresh?

To listen to?

To receive from?

Who is bringing your word to me
that I might have missed
if I hadn’t invited them in?

How are you going to speak to me?

Please don’t play with me God
you know the pain I carry
deep within,
the feeling of failure,
of emptiness,
of letting this precious man down.

Don’t toy with my emotions
and allow me to hope.

My hope is gone,
my time is over,
what I believed was my purpose
has slipped by.

And yet
you turn up
and make an outrageous promise.

God of promise
who made such an outrageous promise to Sarah,
what promises are you making to me today?

What are you calling me to
that I can’t believe?

What are you asking me to trust you about?

What faith, trust, promise can I carry for you today?

I offer you what I have,
however I feel about it
and leave you
to do the rest.

Bless me
in the unexpected,
the outrageous,
in giving
and in receiving.

May I see you,
invite you in,
hear you
and join with you
on an outrageous journey of faith.

 

Heroes of the Faith

Abraham, Sarah and the Angel, Jan Provoost

Who are your heroes? The people you look up to?

Are they a good example?  Are they worthy of your respect?

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

The Great Faith of God’s People

11 Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see. It was their faith that made our ancestors pleasing to God.

Because of our faith, we know that the world was made at God’s command. We also know that what can be seen was made out of what cannot be seen.

Abraham had faith and obeyed God. He was told to go to the land that God had said would be his, and he left for a country he had never seen. Because Abraham had faith, he lived as a stranger in the promised land. He lived there in a tent, and so did Isaac and Jacob, who were later given the same promise. 10 Abraham did this, because he was waiting for the eternal city that God had planned and built.

11 Even when Sarah was too old to have children, she had faith that God would do what he had promised, and she had a son. 12 Her husband Abraham was almost dead, but he became the ancestor of many people. In fact, there are as many of them as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand along the beach.

13 Every one of those people died. But they still had faith, even though they had not received what they had been promised. They were glad just to see these things from far away, and they agreed that they were only strangers and foreigners on this earth. 14 When people talk this way, it is clear that they are looking for a place to call their own. 15 If they had been talking about the land where they had once lived, they could have gone back at any time. 16 But they were looking forward to a better home in heaven. That’s why God wasn’t ashamed for them to call him their God. He even built a city for them.

This is a roll call of Biblical history.  A list of those who lived by faith, following God.  For some reason the lectionary omits Abel, Enoch and Noah from verses 4-7, I don’t know what they have done to offend!

Some of you may have seen this article last week about teaching our children about the Heroes of Faith.  It argues that we have taught the heroes of the faith, not to teach our children about real human people, with real human foibles, who God still manages to love and use, but rather to use them to teach our Sunday School children to be good little boys and girls.  You may or may not agree…

This passage (if we read it all) tells us about the great figures of our faith, but it also uses them as an example of people who believed – even when they couldn’t see.  Who had to literally walk by faith, because they could see no other way in the situations they were in.  They had no proof, but plenty of hope.

Abraham was no saint.  He believed God’s promises, but also did all he could to make them happen.  He got fed up of waiting for God.  His faith faltered and he forgot that it didn’t rely on him.  His wife Sarah laughed when she heard God’s promises.  She didn’t believe, she was sceptical.  Their lives became difficult from their own efforts to bring about God’s promise.

So how about us?    Have you tried to make things happen yourself, to force God’s hand?  Have you laughed in God’s face when you’ve heard his plans for you?  I know I have.  Sometimes it can be difficult to believe what God says to us.

But that is ok.  Because we are people of faith, not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  Some things are hard, if not impossible, to grasp with our minds.  We are human.  People with our own thoughts and feelings, our own hopes and desires, our own plans.  The good news is so were Abraham and Sarah (and Abel and Enoch and Noah).  God has a track record of using very human people, with very human foibles.

We may not be perfect, but by faith we are heroes – for and with God.

We are all strangers and foreigners on earth, walking towards a better place.  So are those we live amongst.  We journey together – not as superior guides, but as fellow travellers.

Lord,
I walk by faith.
I have no other choice,
because life is confusing
and bemusing.
I don’t always understand your ways,
but I trust them.