Genesis15:1-12, 17-18 - Psalm 27 - Philippians 3:17--4:1 - Luke 13:31-35
Homily for Morning Prayer, March 17, 2019 (The Rev. Liz Golub)
A couple of weeks ago I was feeling very anxious.
- Heart palpitations
- Hard to breathe
- Sweaty palms
I figured out the source of my anxiety: blood wrok in preparation for my annual physical. In general I am a pretty healthy person, but I’ve always struggled with my weight. Every year my doctor and I have a conversation about the consequences of being overweight. I try to be faithful to exercise and healthy eating but I fall off the wagon too many times. So, as the date of my physical gets closer, my anxiety level goes up.
I was in the midst of this anxiety as I read today’s Scriptures for the first time. Abram was very anxious about not having an heir. He couldn’t quite believe God’s promise of descendants as many as the stars. In spite of the covenant God made with him Abram eventually took matters into his own hands and fathered a son, Ishmael with his wife’s maid, Hagar. So much for trusting in the Lord.
But God never gave up his covenant with Abram. God changed his name to Abraham which means “father of many”. Eventually Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Because of that covenant we are all descendants of Abraham.
Like Abraham God has made a covenant with us and his name is Jesus. We don’t need animals cut in two in order to confirm this covenant. Jesus sealed the deal with his blood on the cross. We are not only children of Abraham but we are heirs of the new covenant in Jesus Christ: the covenant that will never end. But God had to start somewhere so he started with Abram. He needed Abram’s faith and obedience in order to move forward in his plan for the salvation of the world. God used human beings just like you and me in order to accomplish some amazing work.
I think we can learn much from Abram. First of all, he had a personal relationship with God. He talked to God and God talked back. Abram dared to tell God exactly what was on his mind. No kids, Lord. You can’t give me descendants if I have no child.
Think about it… don’t we offer sound just like Abram? We plead with God for more
- More strength to get though our daily work
- More courage to deal with a pressing problem
- More peace to counteract that free floating anxiety
- And often we struggle to find that personal connection between God and ourselves.
Jesus offers us a beautiful analogy for our relationship with him and with the Father. He says: Jerusalem… How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
You see, God is like the mother hen gathering her little chicks under her wing to keep them safe from the storm or the predators. The mother hen is very protective because she cares for each and every one of her offspring. And that’s the God that we have too.
God went to such great lengths to protect us, to gather us in. He stopped at nothing, even the sacrificial death of his own son Jesus Christ to seal the deal.
- God wants to have a permanent relationship with you and me.
- God watches us little chicks who are sometimes too afraid or too stubborn to find shelter under God’s motherly wing.
- God never gives up on us and continues to calls us back.
We are in the season of Lent, a time of both an inward and outward journey. We are looking toward Easter because we are already children of the resurrection. Thanks be to God: we know how the story ends. But on the other hand, we still have an inward journey that won’t end on Easter. Lent is the time when we look inside ourselves and see all those places that we haven’t yet given over to the Lord.
- Our desire to do things our way, not God’s
- Our inability to let go of people and situations that we can’t control
- or to let go of things that hold us captive, like food, drink, cigarettes, or drugs
- Or the times when we just give up, basically saying to God: I don’t trust you enough to believe in your promises.
This is the inward journey that God calls us to in Lent. We too have to let go of our need to control our lives and hand them over to God. We need to take our fears, our concerns our lack of trust and everything else and lay them at the foot of the cross, because the Good News is that Jesus already has paid the price for our sin and human frailty.
Like Abraham and Jesus we are on the journey too. Our quest will end when we close our eyes for the last time. So the question is: do you want to put your trust in God or in yourself?
We have this season of Lent to start again and to ask the Lord, what do I have to let go of? And ask for the grace to take the first steps. Jesus is always wanting to transform us and only needs our yes. Amen.