August 7, 2022
Scripture Reading: Genesis 15:1-6, Luke 12:32-34
This morning we are stepping back in time well before the Elijah and Elisha stories. Almost all the way to the beginning. We’re going back to Abram (Abraham’s name before it was changed). This is way before the Bible was written. What stories there were told by the fireside at night about Adam and Eve, Noah and Tower of Babel.
Abram was a man very intentional about his walk with God and as you read his story, it seems that God is actually trying to help Abram (and us by extension) understand how this human/divine relationship works.
The first real encounter that we know about happens 3 chapters before today’s text, Chapter 12. God says to Abram, “I have a place in mind for you – where you can thrive and where your family can grow and where you can be a blessing! Your part in the deal is that you can’t experience that here. You’ll have to leave home and trust me on the way. I’ll tell you when we get there!”
You see, there were always squabbles between Abram’s followers and his neighbors. Battles, disagreements. No real sense of having a place of his own.
And besides that, for Abram, thriving and growing had everything to do with having a son and Sarai (which was her name before she became Sarah) was childless. So the whole deal was in jeopardy as far as Abram was concerned. And this worried him.
So, God sees this turmoil in Abram and God says: “After these things,…the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” And as for a child, come outside, Abram! Look at the stars! Can you count them? Neither will you be able to count your descendants! TRUST ME!
The bottom line is this: Abram did! Abram decided to trust God and God said: That trust is the key to our relationship. You trust – and I’ll be enough for you! That’s the kind of relationship that I long to have with you, Abram!
Integral to that kind of relationship is something else that is very significant. God says to Abram: DON’T BE AFRAID! It was an invitation into a kind of connection where Abram could just rest in a deep sort of way, trust, and let go of fear!
Now, here’s the thing. This sort of invitation and connection was articulated first with Abram in Genesis 12 and 15 and then down through history as recorded in the Bible, about 70 more times Biblical characters hear “Do not be afraid” from God! It is like God says to us:
follow me where I lead you,
and you don’t have to be afraid.
I’ve got your back.
That’s called a covenant. It’s a two-way relationship based on genuine care for each other and a promise to keep your part of the bargain.
FEAR is a big deal in our time. There is a subtlety about it – in insidiousness – it permeates our spirits and is like something invisible, colorless, odorless in the air that we breathe. We can’t be all that we were meant to be until we comprehend in the deepest parts of our souls what God meant when God said to Abram and what Jesus said over and over to his disciples: “Don’t be afraid.” And it is always in the context of covenant. Our part is Trust and following where we are led – that place that God has for us where we can thrive and be whole.
God went on to say to Abram: “I am your shield. Your reward shall be very great.” I tried to understand what God was saying to Abram in words that Abram would understand and the words to the Bette Midler song came to me: I can fly higher than an eagle, for you are the wind beneath my wings.
I believe that we as a congregation acted on this covenant principle Tuesday night when we ventured to a new place that I believe God wanted us to go: the Block Party.
You decided that you heard a call to reach out to our neighbors. You didn’t know what you would experience or if you would be successful or even what success might look like, but you all decided to trust and “Just Do It!”
You were amazing! We worked together and made it happen! Lori said: “Teamwork makes the dream work!”
People were fed! Little ones were worn out from bouncing, playing with friends, and eating ice cream! Our neighbors got acquainted with us and each other! You all served, shared what you had, connected, and offered love. Homeless and the poor were welcomed and fed.
And all because you decided we could say YES to a new place, trust in the call of God, and not be afraid!