Elim Lutheran Church, Ogden, UT 12/7/2019|bwk
Genesis 15:1-6, Romans 4:13-16 & Luke 1:46-55
Key verse: “…according to the promise He made to our
ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants
forever” (Luke 1:55)
to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.”
Joshua 21:45 “Not one of all the good promises that the Lord had made
1 Corinthians 1:9 “God is faithful; by Him you were called into the
fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Hebrews 13:5 “…I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
What is a promise?
“a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen.”
A word of honor, a pledge or guarantee.
Someone’s solemn word to do something for us or with us.
Someone’s solemn word to change their thinking and/or behavior.
A vow to love one through all the ups and downs of life.
A vow to keep one’s word.
I promise to love you no matter what.
I promise, I won’t let you down again. I have quit. I am clean and sober. I won’t miss anymore payments.
This time, I will keep my promise and we will go fishing; I’ll take you to the movies; we’ll have a date…
A part of our human experience is broken promises. Ours, and that of others who have let us down.
Our first two readings are about God’s promise to Abraham and Abraham’s trust in believing the promise—that God would keep His Word. No matter what. Even though there were mind-boggling obstacles that could have prevented him from trusting God.
The biggest obstacle was Abraham and Sarah’s age. They were too old. Yet God says, look to the stars and count them if you can. So how many stars could Abraham see? How many stars are there?
The internet (that infamous source of knowledge) tells us there are an estimated one hundred billion (100,000,000,000) stars in our own Milky Way galaxy, although some estimates range up to four times that many, much depending on the number of brown dwarfs and other very dim stars. A typical galaxy may contain anywhere between about ten million and one trillion stars.
Romans tells us that Abraham believed God’s promise even though science and good old fashioned common sense would have instructed him otherwise. He believed in spite of his and Sarah being old. In fact, verse 18 of Romans 4 says, “hoping against hope he believe.”
The author of Romans (St. Paul) tells us that God didn’t count Abraham as faithful because of his obedience—how well he lived and carried himself—a trap we often fall into. But that God counted Abraham as righteous—in good standing with God—because Abraham trusted God and believed God would keep His promise! Wow.
So often we say we believe. Yet so often we measure our selves by how good or bad we believe ourselves to be. We are not faithful enough. We don’t pray good enough. We are too shallow, too selfish, too sinful, etc. We have made too many mistakes. We have ruined our lives. And the list goes on and on.
Abraham didn’t measure himself. He measured God. He measured God and found God trustworthy.
Now, consider Mary. Young, innocent Mary. Was she naive? Too innocent of the realities of life? She too trusted God in an impossible situation. You are going to be mother to Messiah! God’s Son, born of human flesh! Yeah, right Gabriel! Tell me another outlandish story! Yet she believed God’s Word of promise through the angel Gabriel. What’s more, she believed that her Son, Messiah Jesus, would change everything! EVERYTHING!
The world’s order of right and wrong, where the rich and powerful control everything and the poor are victims and powerless will change because of this mystery child she will conceive. Mary’s song, the Magnificat, is a song of praise to God about Jesus turning everything around.
We should be singing it today. I don’t mean just in church. We should be shouting it out loud in our culture, in our world of human relationships, in our cities, our countries, our world, in our politics and all human relationships.
Because if we really believe God’s promise to Abraham so many years ago, and God’s Word to Mary so many years ago…if we really believe God’s PROMISE we will be and speak and act differently. We will stop trying to win God’s approval or the approval of people. We will begin to live rightly with purpose, intent and integrity. We will become the change we want.
We will move and work toward God’s love and care for all people as expressed through the reality of God’s Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Even when others are mean and indifferent. Even when those in power use and abuse us and/or others. Even when it seems as if God’s Word is falling to the ground unfulfilled. We will continue to trust God’s promise and Word. We will believe and follow the star of God’s promise.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.