In Genesis 15, The Lord comes to Abram in a vision and offers encouragement: “Do not be afraid…I am your shield…your reward will be very great.” But Abram laments to the Lord that he continues childless in spite of God’s promises to him. In response, he is shown the stars and told his descendants shall be equally uncountable in number, and it says that Abram believes (trusts) the promise. As a further reassurance – this time about land – the Lord confirms his commitment to Abram in a covenant ceremony. The ceremony is a rather gory event that basically means, “may I be cut in half if I do not keep my promise” in the spirit of the modern day child’s promise: “cross my heart and hope to die!”
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus gets word that Herod wants to kill him. In response, Jesus weeps for the city that persecutes and kills those who are sent by God to save it. As a result of refusing God’s help, they are “on their own.”
Paul talks to the Christians in Philippi about those who do not accept and follow the way of Christ and his cross. Living for physical and earthly gratification, “their end is destruction” as they chose their own fulfillment in temporary things that do not last. Paul encourages the Philippian church to live differently, after his own example of following Christ (who has been raised into lasting life).
Comment: When we struggle, we wonder if God’s promise to love and help us is real. Abram needed reassurance, and God gave it to him. But in my life, I often look for comfort to places other than God’s promises, let along the invitation to find life in following a crucified Jesus! Yet this is the way that will make me whole, as I find time and time again. Let us encourage one another to “stand firm” and keep the faith!
[With St. Patrick’s Day falling on this Sunday, we see a great example. Captured by Irish raiders and sold into slavery, Patrick persevered for many years until he could escape and recross the Irish sea to his family in north England. Out of this came his call to priesthood, and eventually the call to return to Ireland to share with them a new way of life in Jesus Christ. Amazing Grace!]
David S. Robinson, Rector