Second Sunday of Lent
Bible reading: Gen 17:1-7, 15-16
During Epiphany we looked at the Call of God – today we jump into the story of Abram, who received his call from God back in Genesis 12. His response at that point was to faithfully go to the place that God will lead him. So he does. In Chapter 15, despairing about the call and promise he was given because he remained childless. God expanded his promise that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Desperate for this promise to be fulfilled, he listened to Sarai, his wife’s, rather than trusting God and he got Sarai’s servant, Hagar, pregnant in order that the promise of descendants might be fulfilled – or at least begun. Many years pass again (13 years) – he is now 99 (!) and the Lord appears to Abram again reminding him of the promise – and this time he underlines this with a changing both Abram and Sarai’s names from names that mean ‘exalted father’ and ‘my princess’ to Abraham ‘father of a multitude’ and Sarah ‘princess of a multitude’. This is the promise of the origins of the nation of Israel – the Hebrew people. He also gives the covenant sign of circumcision at this point too – a mark that identifies and sets the Hebrew people apart from all other nations as a people of the covenant – a special promise with God. At each of these moments, the response expected from Abram is the same – faithfulness. This is the covenant and promise that finds its ultimate fulfilment in Jesus – the descendant of Abraham who will bring ALL people under him, as we looked at last week. As we respond to God’s call to us through Jesus, He calls us to faithfulness too – to listen to His Word, to follow Him – to trust his promise, the new covenant of a people under Jesus – the King. It is significant that Genesis 16 describes the way in which Abraham and Sarah try to force the fulfilment of the promise – we don’t need to ‘make God’s promises come true’ we just need to follow him, trust him and be faithful to our calling. This event also teaches us that God paints on a much bigger canvas than we often do – God’s purposes here stretches beyond several lifetimes many many years and is about eternity – we tend to consider the world in one or two-year segments – anything bigger than that and we become impatient. We need to trust God’s timings – his purpose is eternal. One of the ways that God helped to ‘engrave’ the promise on the hearts and minds of Abram and Sarai was to change their names – What helps you to remember God’s eternal promises to you?
Almighty God, by the prayer and discipline of Lent may we enter into the mystery of Christ’s sufferings, and by following in his Way, come to share in his glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Holy Spirit, living Breath of God,
Breathe new life into my willing soul.
Bring the presence of the risen Lord,
To renew my heart and make me whole.
Cause Your Word to come alive in me;
Give me faith for what I cannot see,
Give me passion for Your purity;
Holy Spirit, breathe new life in me.