2/27/2018 2:48:45 PM
Sermon - February 25, 2018
[Childrens sermon. God changes Abrams name to Abraham/Sarais name to Sarah. They have no children, and it doesn't seem like they will ever have any children, but when he prays, he is convinced that he Sarah will have a family. Sarah did give birth to a son, Isaac. Today, many people think of Abraham and Sarah as their ancestors. Did you know that when we are baptized, we are given another name, Child of God?] During Lent we walk with Jesus. (Of course, we always walk with and strive to follow Jesus.) But during Lent our tradition invites us to listen extra carefully to the wisdom and presence of Jesus. To listen and to live our lives in response to our prayerful wait with Jesus. . . Abraham prayed. He dreamed of a large family. He and Sarah are aging beyond the capacity of bearing children. Then the unimaginable happens. According to the story in Genesis, he is in his 90s/she is in her 80s and they receive a promise of conception and birth. Both laugh when they are told they will have a child. Perhaps they were so wildly hopeful for a child that their laughter was joyous and not cynical. The child is born and they raise Isaac whose name means laughter. So Sarah and Abraham had this dream, and in faith it came to pass. They must have been tempted to think that the only thing that mattered was their son, Isaac. Who wouldn't? It was their dream which they all but gave up on. Everything depended on this son. Their future beyond their deaths depended on their son. Would it not be tempting to think that their faith was fulfilled in their son, that it was complete, and now they could just cling to the object of their faith?” Their son? No more mystery. No more waiting. No more hope. Just the beloved son. BUT, but we have another story after Isaac is born and is able to ask questions. The story of God's command for Abraham to take Isaac, the son of laughter the son of promise and faith and hope--and go, and sacrifice him on a hill miles away. The message is clear to Abraham. So he goes. As they journey with the destination now in sight, Isaac, carrying the wood on his back, asks, Father, we have the wood and the fire, but where is the lamb? God will provide the lamb for the offering, my son. Abraham is running out of options and hope when, Isaac on the altar, and as horrible as it sounds.”knife in hand, he prays and then he notices a ram a little ways off caught in the brush by his horns. He receives a new command and sacrifices the ram instead. With the story we learn that amazingly enough, Abraham has not substituted his sonâs life for his faith in and relationship with God. He will walk with God first. Then he will enjoy and celebrate the life of his son. The story seems harsh if we press it too far. But its a story to teach us. The story is intended to remind us to offer our dreams, no matter how noble they are, first to God, always to God, rather than make demands of God regarding our dreams. Abraham is an example of one who dreamed his dream into faith. He follows his dream but resists the urge to replace faith with the dream, even after it is coming to pass. In the words of the Apostle Paul, Abrahams God is the One who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Isaac. Isaac. Isaac. So what is the dream that faith forms within you and around you? It probably involves relationships, faithfulness, pain, uncertainty, and tons of waiting. What is your dream? What is your story of faith? As we think about our own dreams of faith in the light of Abraham and Sarah, Jesus walks onto the stage to clarify faith. Jesus asks Who do people say that I am? then, Who do you say that I am? Peter responds, you are the Messiah, the anointed one. It kind of sounds like Peter has arrived! Surely he has a solid grasp of faith. So Jesus is free to really tell it like it is. He begins to explain something of what Abraham learned on top of the mountain: with the knife, fire, wood, and nothing to offer God, but his and Sarahs precious dream. Jesus begins to tell his disciples he must suffer and die. Peters dream unto faith involves many things, but it clearly does not involve suffering and death! Peter's dream of faith involves power, respect, healing. . .turning heads. His beginning faith elevates his dream above the God who grants the dream. Suffering and death are not viable options for Peter. That would mean he wouldn't get the things that he wants. He's not sure he is interested in that kind of faith. Walking on water is fine. But sinking into the water for Peter is not fine. So how does Jesus respond to Peter's demands for a faith according to his own specifications? Get behind me Satan.Some think he was talking to the devil. I think he is talking to Peter. Peter is acting not in faith but as an Adversary to faith. Peter's faith should not be about his own personal power and prestige, but about love, service, sacrifice, mercy. It's not about him. Sometimes there will be suffering and death. Peter will learn. We all learn that faith can carry us through the good and the ill. When things make sense, and when those things fall apart. When we overcome, and when we are overcome. God is walking with us either way. When we are on the mountain holding the knife and the fire and our dream is on the wood. . .as well as when we walk back down the hill with the dream intact and all is well in our world of faith and dreams. Clearly, sometimes the dreams do fail and we wait in the aftermath with what is left. Sometimes it seems that all is lost. In those moments, when we have been shown by our Lord to step back from the dream that has become an idol, only then, only then can a new faith, a new hope, a resurrection come to pass. God is journeying with us this Lent. What is your dream? What is your prayer? And how long are you willing to wait. . .in prayer, and in deliberate, faithful action? God give us courage along the way to dream, in faith. Like Abraham and Sarah, Like Jesus and Peter. Amen.