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First Reading: Genesis 15:1-6

1After 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.” 2But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” 4But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Abram (later known as Abraham) and his wife Sarai (later known as Sarah) ares called by God. It will be some 25 years later (see Genesis 21) before the fulfillment of this promise, for Abraham is 100 years old when Isaac is born.

And we read further into Abraham’s story when God tests Abraham by telling Abraham to sacrifice his son that he had waited a quarter-century to welcome into his home. Abraham was faithful to God’s call. But right before he completed that terrible act, a ram was found caught in the thicket (Genesis 22).

What strikes me in this passage is that Abram was willing to leave everything at his ripe old age and follow where God leads, and trust God when many of us would turn and flee.

Colleague Philip Heinze writes these words about this passage:

It took a leap of faith for Abram to go home and tell Sari to pack the bags and load the camel because God told him he was destined for favored nation status in a “God only knows where” land. So while it is the promised pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that makes the offer tempting it is ultimately Abraham’s trust that God can deliver that gets him to leave the center of civilization to wander the wilderness.

Whether he knew it or not God blessed Abraham to be a blessing, even with the caveat about the cursed, since “all peoples will be blessed” would not be “all” without them. When you read the rest of the Abraham story his trust was less than trust-worthy, and he did as much maneuvering as following. Of course, we do the same, and before leaving country, people and home we generally “trust but verify.”

In the very end, Abraham put his trust where his heart was when with the seed of the promise on the altar of sacrifice and his hand raised to do the unthinkable God intervened and spared the only son. For us it is not a ram but the God of promises who is caught in the thicket on Calvary’s hill and the only Son not spared is cursed so that we might be blessed to be a blessing.

We give thanks to God that even when we have turned our backs on God’s call to follow, God seeks us and finds us and offers us the invitation once again.

Following where God leads may lead us to places we never imagined, like a boy from Michigan called to serve churches in Ohio!

Where is God calling you to go, or to stay?

Let us pray: Almighty God, help us to speak less and listen more. May we trust you to lead us where you want us to go, or calm us in the places you want us to stay. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen

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