I’m glad I went to my bible to discover a little more about God’s call to Abraham in our first reading for today in our lectionary – Genesis 17, 3-9 – because I found out that Abraham was 99 when God made promises to him. He’s 99 and God promises to make him the father of many nations and even have a child.
Abraham and his wife Sarah laugh at that thought, not for joy, but because it’s so nonsensical. They’re at life’s end, not it’s beginning. Something more to do? A child at their age?
How can anyone think big thoughts and great dreams at life’s end? Even if we did, the present Coronavirus pandemic kills big thoughts and dreams. Many, not just 99 year-olders, see things ending not beginning. Dark days ahead.
The story of Abraham and Sarah tells us not to believe life and dreams end. I like Jessica Power’s poem about Abraham.
“I love Abraham, that old weather-beaten
unwavering nomad; when God called to him
no tender hand wedged time into his stay.
His faith erupted him into a way
far-off and strange. How many miles are there
from Ur to Haran? Where does Canaan lie,
or slow mysterious Egypt sit and wait?
How could he think his ancient thigh would bear
nations, or how consent that Isaac die,
with never an outcry nor an anguished prayer?
I think, alas, how I manipulate
dates and decisions, pull apart the dark
dally with doubts here and with counsel there,
take out old maps and stare.
Was there a call after all, my fears remark.
I cry out: Abraham, old nomad you,
are you my father? Come to me in pity.
Mine is a far and lonely journey, too.”
Who says the scriptures are dull and have nothing to say?
Keep us safe and in good health
but also keep dreams alive in us.
So many lose hope in times like these,
Keep hope alive in us,
hope that doesn’t depend on life here and now
but hope that comes from your promises,
Through Jesus Christ. Amen.