Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Abraham, the Early Years

The Story of Scripture: Abraham, the Early Years
Chapter 5: the Early Years

Today, we celebrate World Communion Sunday, which is a reminder that the family of Christ extends throughout the world. Today in our year long story of Scripture, we learn of Abraham, by whom the promise that God’s blessing will reach to the ends of the earth

So far in the story of Scripture: Creation, Fall, Cain, Flood.
Today, the story turns. We move from nations to nation. From humanity to a chosen people.
The tower of babel, and its attempts to throw off the power of God, are replaced by the hopes of one family and its faith.

Genesis 12:1-9
The Promise: I will make you into a great nation.
The problem with the promise: 11:30, “now Sarai was barren; she had no children”
There is humor in my title: The early years: we meet Abram when he was 75.

The Story of Scripture and the Story of Abram and Sarai are really the same story: the story of a promise from God. The promise requires faith.
Will God keep it? Will they believe it?

The promise: FROM GOD
I will make you into a great nation
I will bless you
I will make your name great
I will bless those who bless youI will curse those who curse you

Walter Brueggeman writes,
The promise of land is to a landless people
The promise of an heir is made to a barren, hopeless couple.

How do you make a future when there is no foreseeable options?
For this question, we must turn to our Seinfeld friend, George Costanza.
KRAMER (moves over and sits next to George): Do you ever yearn?
GEORGE: Yearn? Do I yearn?
KRAMER: I yearn.
GEORGE: You yearn.
KRAMER: Oh, yes. Yes, I yearn. Often, I...I sit...and yearn. Have you yearned?
GEORGE: Well, not recently. I craved. I crave all the time, constant craving...but I haven't yearned.
KRAMER (in disgust): Look at you.
GEORGE: Aw, Kramer, don't start...
KRAMER (moving back to the othe side of the booth): You're wasting your life.
GEORGE: I am not! What you call wasting, I call living! I'm living my life!
KRAMER: O.K., like what? No, tell me! Do you have a job?
KRAMER: You got money?
KRAMER: Do you have a woman?
KRAMER: Do you have any prospects?
KRAMER: You got anything on the horizon?
KRAMER: Do you have any action at all?
KRAMER: Do you have any conceivable reason for even getting up in the morning?
GEORGE: I like to get the Daily News!

Like George, Abraham's data in his story did not look well. That is, if we forget the main character of the story> God is the main character.
In the midst of the dry land comes life giving water. In the midst of the barrenness comes hope.
God does his work apart from the human perspective, and human means of accomplishment.
“to stay in safety is to remain barren; to leave in risk is to have hope.” (B, 118)
And so Abram and his family get up and go.
Abraham intermingles with nations in the narrative: Egypt, Melchizadek, Moab, Ammon.
(just like the promise said).

And then, very quickly: “unfaith”
The promised land becomes famine land. And Abraham and family go to Egypt.
Between the characters and their speeches, comes the entrance of God.
At first, it seems unfair.
“Abraham’s shabby actions does bring curse” (Brueggeman, 129)
(just as the promise said)

Romans 4:13-25
Remember, it is God.
“God giving life to the dead and calling things that are not as though they were.”
“Against all hope, Abraham had hope in God.”
“He did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God.”
“Being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised”

Luke 16:19-31
Abraham emerges as one of the most influential characters in the Bible.
Jesus uses the image of Father of many nations, in a story about the afterlife.
Abraham shares to the rich man: that if you do not believe the words of God, you would not believe the works of God.
(just like Abraham did)

What is the choice?
“The story of Abraham and Sarah put a crisis before humanity. It is the crisis of deciding to live either for the promise, and so disengaging from the present barren way of things, or to live against the promise, holding on grimly to the present ordering of life.” (Brueggeman, 113)
What are we to do today?
Seeing the promise. And,
Live By faith

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