Sarah – Abraham and Our Identity as Children of God
Jesus said, “By this, Everyone will know that you are my disciples:
If you love one another.”
Everyone will know … If/when you love one another!
So how do we learn the ways of Love, God’s love, unconditional love
The Kind of Love that has realistic expectations, amazing promises
and the Invitation for an Everlasting Partnership with God?
**Let’s start with our “Spiritual Parents” Abraham and Sarah
Our “Spiritual Parents”, Abraham and Sarah – Loved one another
But it was complicated
Long before Jesus told the people of God in his day, to love one another,
God had made a promise to Both Sarah and Abraham.
God Promised – “I will make a Covenant with you:
A promise that will last Forever”
Your descendants will be like the Stars in the Night’s Sky
Or like the Sands at the seashore – Lots Y’All!
Lots of Daughters And Lots of Sons!
Think of every person who has ever believed in
God as a Christian, Muslim or Jew – EVER throughout all Time!
Can you close your eyes, Just for a moment and imagine the
Audacity of a Promise like that to a couple
LONG PAST THE AGE OF HAVING CHILDREN …
But here we are today, a world with many Muslims, Christians and Jews
And that is just in 2018 – Imagine in all of the last 6 Thousand Years!
Judaism (13.9 million followers) ...
Islam (1.605 billion followers) ...
Christianity (2.22 billion followers)
Approximately 4 Billion of the 7 Billion plus In 2018 Wow!
An Invitation: To Embrace our identity as, Child of God
As a Spiritual descendant of Sarah and Abraham
And as a Disciple of Jesus?
So, if we say YES – What does that mean for my life and your life
To embrace that heritage?
Let’s UNPACK that idea together.
I have a friend that I got to know at Calumet, our Lutheran Camp in NH
His name is Brian Godwin
Brian has an enviable last name, Godwin means: Friend of God
I’m surprised that it’s not a more popular name.
William = Will or Desire to Protect – Even my middle Name
Mark = Defender ( My Parents were thinking Second Gospel – Mark)
But my last name White … Means White, like the color (Florida Pool)
Compared to Godwin … Friend of God Well, there is no comparison
What would claiming the identity Friend of God mean?
What would it look like to live our lives as “Children of God?
How might your/my day to day life change if we wore something around our neck that told people, “I am a Child of God”?
Like the Cross that some of us wear
Or Tattooed for all to see – I Am A Child of God
My Friend Keith went on many mission trips as a Campus Pastor at KSU
Leading groups of college students on an “Alternative Spring Break”
He often went into the Caribbean Islands after a Hurricane
Like the one that happened in in Puerto Rico this year
I remember him telling me a story of one of the years he went to Haiti following the Earthquake and then a tropical storm that happened about 15 years ago
He described utter devastation – Buildings pancaked, trees stripped of all that was green, homes with no roofs and sometimes tarps across the three walls that were still standing or many people living in a kind of tent village that sprung up in yards. Tents that came from the Red Cross, Red Crescent and other aid organizations
Including ELCA Disaster relief
On this particular day Keith and the students had spent the day removing debris from a One Story Community walk in clinic, a satellite for the Hospital that had most of it’s roof but the windows had been lost between the earthquake and then the tropical storm.
Most of the essential equipment had been moved into inner rooms that were built just for this possibility but they couldn’t really care for people properly until it was clean, temporary windows were installed and a generator could bring electricity back on – 3 months after the earthquake and storm!
Keith tells the story about working side by side all day with a young man, literally paired with a fellow worker who spoke little English and Keith spoke no French. They were however partners, hard working partners.
Keith talked about being motivated by his call from Christ to the love of neighbor. He said he was walking in the footsteps of all of us who have donated to Disaster relief, raised money in a walk-a-thon or 5K, prayed for the people in the crisis or helped send someone else.
Keith, as a campus Pastor was passing on the identity to the college students by working side by side, leading devotions every night and encouraging them to tell their story & invite others in the future.
Keith knew where his motivation and identity was Rooted
How about his partner?
All day they had worked side by side and during a break toward the end of the day, Keith had a chance to invite an aid worker who spoke both English and French, to help them communicate.
After the pleasantries of name, home and family were covered.
Keith got to his question.
His partner smiled and reached in his shirt and pulled out a cross on its chain. He had come from Quebec; he had grown up in Haiti and still had family there. He too was from a church group, many of who were working side by side with the college students all day and they were there through the Episcopal church’s Disaster relief effort that mirrors the ELCA.
Family members of the same Spiritual family that found each other in the midst of Loving their Neighbor.
Pastor Julie reminded us in her last two sermons that the ways of Discipleship often include mentoring and spiritual practice.
She helped us to see how that is happening right here at SMLC and invited us to think of who mentored us in the ways of God.
She also reminded us strongly that: God keeps God’s promises
There is no stronger promise from God than,
“You are my Beloved Child” in the waters of baptism we are Re-Born to become the Children of God and Marked with the Cross of Christ … Forever!
Abraham Literally had his name changed from Abram = Exalted Father
To Abraham = Father of many, Changed by God
However, Sarah’s story today is the one I want to close with.
When we arrive in the story of Genesis today, I think it’s honest to say that Abraham could have said to God, “Everything is good now. Sarai offered me her slave Hagar to become my second wife and now I have a son and Heir, Ishmael. I think everything is going to work out fine to become the Exalted Father.”
But God says …. NOT SO FAST
Not really … but God does explain that the promise was not simply to Abram and whoever he happened to have children with.
God’s promise was to both Abram, who would now be Abraham = MANY.Sarai (which means Princess) would become Sarah = THE Princess
God’s heirs to God’s Promise.
And like Sarah before – Abraham laughs, After all, Sarah was in her 80’s
New name or NOT – How could she have A baby?!!
What’s in a name? Sarah would have a child with Abraham.
He too is our “Spiritual Father” and his name is Isaac
And that name in Hebrew means – Laughter!
Holy laughter in the end, of a promise - of surprise and wonder!
How do you explain to your child when they get old enough to understand why you were named Laughter that must have been an Awesome Conversation!
And how about you and me, how do we claim our heritage and name as a baptized “Child of God”?
What do we pass on to the next generation as signs and practices of what it means to live into the heritage of loving our neighbor?
We live that out every day.
In our homes with family, in our schools with classmates, with our neighbors in the classrooms, at work, in the store, as we drive
Basically in every interaction with every other person we encounter we have an invitation to “Love our neighbor, in words and deeds”.
Most often it is the simplest of exchange, a smile, a greeting, a wave at the stop sign or holding the door at our workplace.
On other days it might be rebuilding a Walk In Clinic or Responding in Love to a Very Big Need.
Last but not least, It’s a lifelong pursuit. A Lifestyle
If Abraham and Sarah’s story tells us anything it shouts to us:
Age means nothing! If you’re 80 or 90
Keep on Loving your neighbor!
God’s promise will never leave you and
Our invitation to be the Children of God lasts Forever.
Let’s get busy family… there are a lots of Neighbors to Love!