Purpose: To celebrate God’s faithfulness
Bible Lesson: Genesis -17, 18:9-15, 21:1-7
Key Verse: She became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Abraham when he was old. (Genesis 21:2)
By Rev. Dr. John Brantley
The key verse sums up the study for this week for Sarah and Abraham who are not expected to have a child yet became the parents of God’s Covenant People. This change occurs through God covenant. Through unexpected faith and natural processes God’s love are power are revealed through unlikely people. This new child fulfills the tradition of an heir to extend the generations and is the beginning of God’s witness of the covenant as promised.
A second tradition is the custom of changing Names. Some couples exchange family names to signify both the blending of a new family and preserving the traditions that are their foundations. Some couples take the husbands family name. A few take the wife’s family name. Some start from scratch with new names to let go of broken family traditions to signify the new persons.
How ever you choose to deal with your names, know that the changing of a name makes a statement of trust and interdependence and is a special opportunity to build new identities. This is true for Abram and Sarai. God bless them with new names to go with the new lives and relationships that will follow.
It seems clear that 99.9 percent of any population of 90-year old adults would laugh at the prospect of becoming parents at that stage in life. Laughter can mean many things in different situations. On some occasion it is our ability to not take our selves as seriously and enjoy a good body shacking dose of laughter that energies and expresses passion in our lives. Some times laughter hides the true emotions, masking an unpleasant experience or perception. Sarcastic laughter cuts the deepest with the least joy. Chuckles of embarrassment reveal our common vulnerabilities. Sarai’s laughter sounds like the disbelief and unreasonable suggestion that God could do such a crazy thing in her life.
Think of some crazy sounding things that God might call you to start. Is it to cross on of the mission bridges begun through the annual conference? Is it to go back to school or even start a new school? Is it to run a marathon with some who could not walk without your spiritual encouragement last year? Could you run for public office as a person of faith? Is it to become a foster parent? Is it to uproot your family and move to a new community to serve and lead others in Christ? Don’t laugh, people are responding in these ways and others every day. Don’t be frightened; you are most likely to be next.
Sarah’s reflective lesson that speaks to use over three thousand years later: God is faithful in blessing us and working through our lives. She looks back at her laughter and rather than a sign of fright and unbelief, it has become a reminder of God’s presence and providing.
Part of Sarai’s fear was based on what others would say if something impossible happened in her life? What would family, friends and even enemies say she risked having faith in something beyond her control and reasonableness? What would folks think of us? What would they assume happen? What would be their perceptions? After Isaac is born she and Abraham are freed from the limits of what others would say that might limit their faith. Because of their faithfulness, they are remembered and talked about as the nursing couple that showed the world through out the ages that we are the one’s who are to be laughed at and not God.
Faith in Action
Easy- Go in find a good size mirror and make crazy faces until you are able to find an expression or two that makes you smile and laugh. Then show a few of your favorites to someone else and see who laughs the most. Know that God makes us to bring joy. Start small and be open to the impossible.
Challenge-Take seriously the thoughts, dreams and interests you have had in your life to do something crazy or foolish for God or the church. Make a extravagant gift of generosity. Volunteer to teach a school class without being asked. Invite someone to lunch every that you have never eaten with and share how God has worked in your lives.
Prayer: Dear God, help us to laugh at our selfish and foolishness. Help us laugh at what is funny and speak the truth about what frightens and overwhelms us. Give us opportunities to rename and reframe our lives and relationship to witness your work in us. Amen.