Luthermatrix

The blog of a lutheran pastor, writer, and political animal.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Five Links 3: Trans-Pacific Partnership edition

Compromise:
Jamelle Bouie of Slate suggests the Senate Minority Leader spot that Harry Reid is vacating is a spot for a moderate, because this position represents all Democrats, not just the liberal wing… therefore Elizabeth Warren isn’t the right person for the job. If she became Senate Minority Leader she’d be pulled to the right and no longer be a firebrand for the left.

Ted Cruz, and increasing my vocabulary:
Douthat games out a scenario in which Ted Cruz, currentlythe only Republican who has announced his candidacy for President, becomes theRepublican nominee. Essentially, Cruz should hope for a crowd of centrists whacking one another and Rand Paul to be off in left field doing his own thing. Cruz then would need to find a few issues that separates him from the field and prove that he’s the only “true believer”… for example his position on Immigration (and potentially Common Core and the ACA). Essentially, Cruz could use a few dog whistle issues to paint the rest of the field as Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) in Reagan clothing.
Douthat believes Cruz’s main liability is his lack of likability… more specifically he noted multiple people have described Cruz as “Oleaginous.” A quick definition for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term (myself included), “1. Covered with oil 2. Distastefully complimentary.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership:
This is an issue I’ve felt a little in the dark about, so I asked around and these were the places friends pointed me to: the Whitehouse, Krugman, Summers, and Wikileaks.
What is TPP? A trade deal being negotiated between the US and 14 or so Pacific nations, perhaps a little more NAFTA-ish than most people would like. It appears to be the economic portion of Obama’s “pivot to Asia.”
So, what are people saying?

The Good:
It’ll hold trading partners accountable regarding labor and environmental standards in a way NAFTA didn’t, thus TPP is “the mostprogressive trade deal in history.”
Asian countries are creating all kinds of trade pacts that are economically integrating the Pacific, if we don’t get on board, we get left behind.
It may add 0.5% to the national income of the nations involved.
It will revive the American manufacturing sector by opening up new markets for our goods.

The Bad:
A 0.5% increase in national income may be optimistic.
Most of the protections that benefit the USA will mainly help Hollywood and big Phrama—it’s about patents and copyrights, not labor, jobs, and the environment.
I’ve heard from friends over in Europe that the EU is crying foul on this agreement—though I do not know the specifics.

The Ugly:
The deal is being hammered out in a sort of secretive way.

So, a few thoughts:
If this is a race to the bottom, that’s no good, I hope the “most progressive trade deal in history,” statements are more than just rhetoric.
The idea that America can be cut out of regional markets is a relatively new one for a whole generation of Americans, who assume globalization is the norm and that the USA (or at least American Corporations) is its main driver. We’re living in a more multi-polar world economically and we will act as such.
My knee-jerk inclination is to separate “American Manufacturing” from Big Phrama and Hollywood, but truth be told entertainment and drugs are staple American exports.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Adverts for my new book, Silicon Soul!

Spot 1

The Extended Spot

The other 3 spots




Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sermon: I Want To See Jesus

       
  Here we are, close enough to Easter, or at least close enough to Holy Week, that we can see, in the distance, the resurrection Dawn… and we are deep enough into Lent, that we can see the story of this season in full.
         Covenant after covenant has come before us, so that the one promised by Jeremiah, the one placed within us and written on our hearts, 
this covenant is a relief to us.
         We know of the condemnation that is to come, we’ve heard of Christ’s upcoming death, we’ve been commanded to bear his cross, we’ve been driven out into the wilderness with him these 40 days… so Christ’s promise to draw us to him… Christ’s promise, more literally, to drag us to himself, comes as a great comfort.
         Drawn to our Lord, who is the life giving Seed, 
         promise placed in our hearts, so that we may know the LORD
The graciousness of this strikes us dumb
—or if we can speak, the best we can come up with is the pleading, yet wonderful, words of the Greeks in today’s Gospel, “We want to see Jesus.”… I want to see Jesus.
Pray

         I want to see Jesus
         I want to see Jesus, but
         But I look in the mirror.
         I look and see, that I am not right.
         I look at those heavy stones, etched 10 times.
         I look at the commands of God, and know I do not measure up… I know I’ve committed so many acts of idolatry, in so many ways
—I seek cover in those things, which are convenient, to be saved by them, instead of being covered by the Covenant God made with me. 
I look to my neighbors, and do not love them
—I injure them in many ways, by things I do and by things I don’t do. Even moral neutrality is active rebellion.
         I want to see Jesus but I am a sinner from way back
—every covenant, every agreement with God glints with my guilt
         Paradise Garden, gutted
         All of God’s promises to Abraham, undermined at every turn
         Freedom from slavery in Egypt, “let’s make a U-turn back to bondage.”
         God provides at every turn, let’s complain about it.
         Time and time again, I want to see Jesusbut
         But I am separated from God by my own sin.

         I want to see Jesus
         I want to see Jesus, but
         But this sinful world keeps me away.
         Measures me as not only failing, but by my very nature not welcome
         I’m a Samaritan
—as close as a shadow to being God’s people
—yet as unwanted as a pagan priestess, or any other pest.
         I’m Cain, Esau, Ishmael, Hagar, Edom… Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman… Pagan, Jewish, Heretic, Muslim, Catholic… Indian, Slave, Woman, Immigrant… Gay, Illegal, Single, Addict, Disabled, Elderly, Convict…
         I want to see Jesus—but I’m outside the gate, I’m one step too far, I’m not allowed at the feet of the Lord.

         I want to see Jesus
         I want to see Jesus, but I’m immoral, and I’m unwelcome.

         I want to see Jesus
         I want to see Jesusbecause
         Because all those laws which convict me,
all those times I’ve harmed other people instead of helping them, 
all those idols I’ve made… 
all those covenants… 
all those promises I’ve made… 
all those promises I’ve broken, 
all those contracts I’ve cut with God and then cut up in the wrongness of my soul… 
         They have been picked up, 
put together, 
made whole, 
put into me.
         Yes, I broke it all, yet God refuses to be through with me. God makes my soul right,
writes a new contract signed by him alone, 
promises me promises that are true, 
takes those laws meant to convict and makes them into teachings that are inside of me.
         I want to see Jesus, because the LORD has forgiven our iniquity and remembers our Sin no more!

         I want to see Jesus
         I want to see Jesus, because
         Because he draws me in.
         I want to see Jesus, because he drags me to himself.
         He, this seed once sown, who grows into many
         His roots grow deep, and destroy the fence that keeps me out
         His many arms and branches billow out and blow by any barrier.
         His goodness brings me in, 
his leaves are for the healing of all the nations
—for all of us, 
healing us all
—healing Cain and Egypt, 
salve for Pagan and Slave, 
food for Immigrant and Addict.
         I want to see Jesus, because as he is lifted up the very gravity of the universe is changed
—we are pulled to that pole and brought in from the cold.
         The gatekeepers flee, 
the rulers of this world are driven out, 
for they drove out the true ruler, they kicked to the curb the Christ.
          And with that we see everything in a new light
—we, like plants ourselves, are drawn to that light, birthed again in him.

         I want to see Jesus, because he upholds both halves of the bargain, for I cannot.
         I want to see Jesus, because his calling upon my life is irresistible.
         The fruitful life he bears will feed us forever.
         
         Eat of this feast of bread and wine
—the grain of God, the fruit of salvation, poured out for us.
Ingested, put within us.
Drawing us in, toward our Lord and our God.
Amen.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Writing and Such: Two New Books

So, as you might remember, when the power went out after Sandy I created Read, Reflect, Pray.
Well... it's been a long winter.
;)
This winter I took it upon myself to collect and edit a series of sermons from my classmates, Nine Sermons from the Lutheran Theological Seminary Class of 2011.
Additionally, I participated in National Novel Writing Month... though I confess my version of a "month" ran into the New Year.
Well, after leaving the novel I produced fallow for 6 weeks, and then editing it, I intend to release Silicon Soul on March 27th.
So, watch my author's page.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Gospel, in three minutes



If you read our 2 year vision plan in the last Newsletter, you’ll know that we are posting all the Sunday sermons online on Youtube… one of the interesting things I am able to do,
being the account’s administrator,
is look at the statistics about how people watch the sermons online.
          With a few exceptions the average person watches one of my sermons for a little over 3 minutes. I initially felt kinda bad about that… but then I remembered just how badly the American attention span suffers
—the average person as of 2012 can only keep focused on one thing for 8 seconds
—a whole one second less than a goldfish
—and the three minutes and fifteen seconds I get from a viewer on Youtube is a whopping 33 seconds more than the average youtube video gets.
          So, with those three minutes in mind—I’d like to try something a little different today—I’d like to do a sort of Machine Gun sermon—the Gospel in three minutes or less, four times.
          Let us pray
1.
          Look at us, raising a generation on our complaints about God and God’s people. We keep claiming things used to be great
—we point to God’s acts in the past so often we’ve in fact pushed God there for good.
By ushering God into the past, we’ve destroyed our children’s future relationship with God. We’ve poisoned our community with our nostalgia—we’ve ensured we’ll be the last generation of God’s people.
          But look, God doesn’t leave us here, wailing in the wilderness
—we complain of no food, yet we eat God’s manna.
Then we complain of no good food, and God offers us quail.
We complain of no water, yet from the very Rock of God our thirst is quenched. We are brought low, humbled, by a poison that parallels our own poisonous, venomous words
—snake venom for our snake tongues.       
          And then, like someone going through the steps, at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, we are forced to look up and face the poisonous creature.
We name the elephant in the room, we look our troubles in the face.
We survive, wounded but aware and alive
—facing the world as it is
--facing our own culpability and treachery,
facing the fact that it is God alone who has brought us this far.
Amen.

2.
          Look at us. We who are scattered, so far away from what can be called home—so far away too from one another. We’re strangers here.
          Yet God grabs us up, and brings us home, holding our hand as we travel to safety. God also searches far and wide to gather us in, that we might be together again. We are no longer immigrants, no longer strangers, but brothers and sisters reunited, together again with those who we love.
          Look at us. We who are sick, so low and oppressed by the power of death, that simply putting water to our lips, or food in our bellies, is impossible. Truly we’re ill.
          Yet God is the Good Physician. God saves us from distress, with His Word, so often spoken by a sister or brother in the faith, He heals. His steadfast love is balm and a Band-Aid, it is prescription and ointment—recovery and release, healing and wholeness.
He is with us through the whole process, steadfast and never abandoning, unceasing in His care.
Amen!

3.
          My God! We are dead and disobedient.
We are an uncomfortable point…
A metaphor and a truth that no one wants to speak—but here it is,
we’re controlled by death and captured by powers which defy God.
          We’re hardwired with habits and inclinations that hurt us and those around us. There is this rut running through the world
—catching our tires and pulling us along
—a rut that runs into a ditch that is Death.
          But, My God! Our God! God, loved us even when we were dead, and God raised us up.
          God saved us from our disobedience and has taught us a new way
—has walked a different path,
one that leads us out of the ditch,
one that raises us out of that rut,
and runs right into our neighbor’s lives.
Right to places that have been placed before us so that we might live for, and with, each other.
          This new way is nothing short of re-learning how to live.
          It’s one big turn around,
one big ongoing U-turn
A turn we’ve biff on often enough,
but still we are called to follow.
          So often we think of the trajectory of our life as this: “We live, and then we die. Point A is life, and point B, sooner or later, is death.
          But that’s not the path we’re on
—that’s not the path we Christian are on.
We can say, in truth, we were dead, but now we are alive.
Point A was death, and point B, sooner or later, is life!
          You were dead and damned in Sin.
          Because of Christ, you are alive and saved.
Amen.
         
4.
          I sometimes wonder why we worry about eternal punishment.
Why do we look to the future for a sorting out of all things?
Why do we wait for judgment to be upon us? Look at how we live now. Look how we treat one another, how we choose to act and to live.
Our condemnation is right here—no not in total,
but consider all those things we hide from one another
—sometimes we even hide them from ourselves
consider all that is done in darkness. Consider those things we think to turn a blind eye to, those things in ourselves and in our neighborhoods and in the larger world, that we would rather pretend don’t exist.
          When the Light of Christ is shined there
—shined here
—shined on us
—those things we are not proud of skitter away, like Cockroaches running under a fridge when the light comes on.
The hidden, is revealed.
This brings both pain and healing—because often you are only as sick as your secrets.
          When the Light of Christ shines here…
When the light of Christ shines, it shimmers with those precious words,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but have eternal life.”
A light that shines like the sun after a long winter—
melting away the dirtied snow,
revealing the good God intended for His creation and his children.
Like the sun, giving good growth to long dormant seeds, and fresh leaves to trees long dead in winter’s grasp.
Amen!

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Sunday, March 08, 2015

Christopher’s Medium Catechism



         In Luther’s Small Catechism he gives a brief, easily memorizable or even, in this day and age, tweetable (for the social media crowd), explanation of the basics of Christian faith, the 10 Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Holy Communion, and Confession.
         In his brief explanation of the 10 commandments, he hammers home that these commandments are about keeping us from idolatry—from making those things we fear, love, and trust, into false gods. In doing so, he reminds us of the one true God who is our Gracious Lord.
         Additionally, he expands the don’ts of the 10 commandments—just as Jesus does in Matthew’s Gospel “You’ve heard it said thou shall not kill, I say don’t even get angry.”
         Finally, in Luther’s Small Catechism he adds a positive command to each negative one—in other words, “Don’t just refrain from the evil, but also do the good.”

        Luther also wrote a Large Catechism. In addition to exploring more deeply what it means to fear, love, and trust—in addition to widening the negative and pointing to the positive—he also highlights Jewish practices at the time of Moses—using the best learning of Luther’s age,
 And pointing, sometimes very sharply, to how these command are to be lived out in the society of Luther’s day.

         So, today, I would like to present a hybrid between Luther’s Small and Large Catechism—not too large nor too small—sort of a goldilocks and the three bears kind of thing—a “Just right” Catechism—a Medium Catechism.
Today I would like to present, “Christopher’s Medium Catechism.”
Let us pray

You shall have no other gods before me.
         It all stands and falls here. The other 9 commandments are moot, if we’ve not grappled with this first one. The measure of our actions is simply this, “How are they a response to God’s freely given gift of life to us?”
         You see, we easily declare idolatry to be an ancient thing—or something practiced in far off temples—a relic of an idea with no practical application these days… but that is not so.
         Ask yourself this:
What do you fear—what goes bump in your night?
What do you respect, above all other things?
When stuff hits fan, and you are hard pressed between a rock and a hard place, Where do you turn?
Those answers, dear sisters and brothers, are your idol.
         Because, there is One who has told us “be not afraid.” One who earned our respect through His humility and His grace. One to whom we can always turn. The one true God found in Christ Jesus our Lord.
         And so, be on guard against idolatry yes, but even that prohibition is grounded in the positive, that God has freed you to live life unafraid, trusting in him, who loves you deeply.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
         We humans are creatures of clay, and have unclean lips—thus it is dangerous when we speak about God—God, who alone is not an idol, God who alone is Holy
—we might speak in such a way that we create a false god out of the one true God.
         We might cloak a lie in God’s name.
We might hide those things, which are sinful under a cloud of piety.
Our greed, our lusts, our envy, our violence and our strife, done in God’s name—and thus done in the name of a false god.
Think, of course, of those fanatics who murder and maim in the name of God—it is wickedness and idolatry.
Think too of those preachers of false gospels—gospels of escape and gospels of prosperity, which dishonor Christ, who did not escape, but entered into human hurt
—Christ of whom it is said, “to gain Christ is to lose the whole world.”
         To honor God’s name, we ought to call upon God in all times of need, and pray to God, and praise God with our lips and in our lives.

Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.
         I’ve preached to you all about the Sabbath before. Sabbath is about rest, liberation, and holiness.
         Sabbath is a time that ought to be “good… for nothing.” Good in and of itself—not clogged up with cares and the frantic pace of the rest of the week. Truly a time to rest.
         Sabbath is also about liberation, acts of kindness and justice are part of living in the holiness of God’s time—such acts honor God’s love of everything God has created.
         Sabbath, finally, is holy in and of itself, dragging us into the reality of God though our worship together, where we receive the cherished promises of God.
         What does this have to do with fearing, loving, and trusting, you might ask—well, what keeps you up at night?
What keeps you from rest, from service of neighbor, and from worshipping and receiving the promises of God?
Sabbath exposes all of those—points out our idolatries.

Honor your father and your mother.
         As you may know, I insist parents attend confirmation class with their children… and for some reason, when we get to this command, the parents are overjoyed.
         It’s a very practical commandment, and one that follows Luther’s attack on all the idols that we put our fear, love, and trust in.
         It is from our parents, and all those who raise us, that we learn what is dangerous and what is safe. It is from them that we establish, or don’t establish, a sense of love and trust.
         We’re like little sponges and what we sop up will enter into our lifeblood for the rest of our lives—our basis for fear, love, and trust, are established in childhood.
         For good and ill, all authority figures shape our views of God—thus we ought to not only honor them, but also pray that they, while filled with foibles and folly, might reflect, on occasion at least, the one true authority, the one true parent of us all—that they might reflect at least a little of God’s authority, which is found in humility and weakness.

You shall not kill
         Christ takes this command, and raise it to great heights, saying, “All who are angry at a sibling, or curse them, are guilty.”
         We should instead spend our days giving life to our neighbor—Luther says following this one commandment would be a full time job. Being life giving is a lifelong task.

You shall not commit adultery
         There are many relationships we will have in life; our relationship with our spouse will likely be the deepest.
         Yes, there will be ups and downs—perhaps you will cycle from lust, love, loathing, and back to lust. Perhaps it won’t live up to a romance novel or all those romantic comedies—but, I would remind you, holding real people up to such standards is idolatry too.
         Marriage is a place where trust is formed, or broken. If we cannot trust our spouse—can we trust anyone?
—such a break can deform so many of our relationships, even our relationship with God, after all, marriage can be a metaphor for that relationship, the relationship between God and God’s people.
         This is why we ought to honor those who struggle to love one another and trust one another with their whole lives
—why we ought to support trust and trustworthiness in relationships
—why we ought to build up our neighbor’s marriages.

You shall not steal.
         Luther is a little scary on this point… he states that if every thief were hung there would be no one left on the earth.
         Theft, is not just pocketing soap and not paying, or even knocking over a bank.
         It’s gaining other people’s things by a multitude of means.
Tipping the scale when weighing things,
selling an inferior product, or price gouging.
Not giving 100% at work, not paying people enough to live on.
Buying things that cause the suffering of others.
         Pretty soon we’re all on the gallows, and forced to swallow a hard truth—none of these things—not one of them—can we take with us… As that country song says, “I’ve never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch.” Theft is ultimately trusting, fearing, or loving things, instead of loving people and loving God.
         We ought to protect the integrity of all our neighbor has, and work to better their livelihood.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
         Any time we wield our tongue against another human being as if it was a weapon, we’ve broken this commandment.
         This is doubly so when we do it from the shadows of anonymity. When we gossip about others from the darkness, we defame and dishonor them. Any claim we make about someone else, we should be willing to defend in the court of law, with the danger of libel and perjury pointed against us.
         And it is so much more complex now—what of social media? Is “re-tweeting” something that proves false, a crime? Is “Liking” a lie on facebook, an offense?
         Our tongue wagging and our typing, both tempt us toward sin. I pray we train them to only talk well of our neighbor, and defend them from all defamation, that we might interpret all they do in the best possible light.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, or household.
         These last two commandments knock any self-righteousness out from under us. We might look to the first eight, and pretend that we’ve never broken a single one, but this pushes the breaking of the commandments into our hearts and imaginations.
Have you coveted any of those things you did not steal,
 or wished someone dead who you did not kill,
or lusted after someone’s wife but never acted on that impulse,
or thought of dishonoring your parent, but kept quiet about it?
Did any of those breaches of the Law cross your mind or fill your heart with hope?
         Additionally, I would venture to guess, if you own a TV, you are unable to not covet. The average American watches 8 hours of commercials a week—and what are commercials, but a continuous call to covet?

In conclusion.
Ask yourself these questions:
What idols does an honest reflection upon these commandments reveal?
How can you live your life as a joyful response to God’s grace?
Who is your neighbor and how can you serve them?

And know this:
God has freed you to live life unafraid, trusting in him who loves you deeply, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sermon: Abraham’s faith, and our own

         Today, we read in Romans 4, Paul’s unique interpretation of the Faith of Abraham. He goes to the 15th chapter of Genesis and considers a timeline of Abraham’s faith…
he notes that the father of the faith, Abraham, lived centuries before the time of Moses and the giving of the Law.
         More than that, Abraham is made right with God, before he is even circumcised.
         In fact, Paul points out, Abraham receives the promise of God, on account of his trust in that promise. That he believed in God who gives life to the dead—that is, God gives a child to one who is impotent and one who is barren.
         And there Paul pivots.
Paul then points to us and points out that we Christians too receive the promises of God,
are made right with God,
because of our belief in God, who gives life to the dead.
That is our connection-point to Abraham—that is what makes us children of Abraham—Justification by Faith, apart from the Law or any work of our own,
is what connects us to Abraham’s faith.

         Now, as a rule I don’t read Hebrew Scriptures the way Paul does here in Romans—it often disrupts the integrity of the text—it doesn’t let Genesis be Genesis, or Jews be Jews.
         But, today, I’d like us to try on Abraham’s faith for size, and compare it to our own. Not to dismiss the Jewish tradition, or do any permanent damage to Genesis (not that it is within my paltry mortal powers to do so), but to hear the faith anew, to see Abraham’s faith, and our own, again.
         To hear the ways in which:
God claims Abraham,
Answers Abraham,
and stays in relationship with Abraham.
         To hear as well, of God’s claiming us, answering us, and staying in relationship with us.
Let us pray

         God calls Abraham out of Ur. He takes him out of the East and brings him to a new land in the West. Abraham leaves all that he knows—it’s stripped away from him… and as anyone who has moved a time or two knows, a new location calls for a new identity.
You get to recreate yourself when you move—people only know you from the time they lay eyes on you, you are something of a blank slate, a new person…
or as happens in Abraham’s case, God recreates him, presents him in a new place, a blank slate for God to write God’s blessings upon, that he might be a blessing to others.
Abraham can tell others, “Hi, I’m Abraham, and God sent me here.”… and that’s who he is.
         And then later, as we read in today’s lesson, God even erases Abraham’s name and writes him a new one
—he replaces the name Abram with Abraham—“You will be the father of a multitude of nations.” And Sarai, became, Sara, Princess—for from her will come nations and kings.
         See, their origin and their identity, are from God—that is part of the Faith of Abraham.

         We will also find Abraham bargaining with God, hoping to save a city, doomed for destruction. He is willing to call upon God again and again, pleading to God with prayers of intercession.
         We will also find Abraham unable to believe, and so will ask for a sign that God’s audacious promises are true.
And God responds, by cutting a covenant with him.
Literally.
Cutting.
He takes some critters and cuts them up, and walks between them. In the ancient world such a thing would be done by both parties—signifying the consequences if this promise is broken
—but in this case God alone walks the bloody line—God alone agrees to pay the price if the promise is broken. God gives to Abraham this gracious sign of his promise to him.
         See, risky requests, pleading and proof of the promise—they too are part of the Faith of Abraham.

         Now, this whole relationship between God and Abraham gets started with a promise of Land in a particular place, Children by a particular woman, and Blessings… and with the noticeable exceptions that I have already outlined, the majority of the Abraham Story is Abraham endangering these promises… Abraham doing seemingly everything in his power
to lose his land,
to be childless,
and to thwart any blessings that might come his way.
         God promises Land, and Abraham leaves the land promised to him and lays low in Egypt and refuses to take land when offered to him.
         God promises Children, and Abraham gives his wife away to another man for marriage, not once, but twice.
         He tries to make his Servant, his Nephew, and his son by another mother, into his heirs
—instead of waiting for the promised son.
         He sends that first son off to die, not once, but twice. Then, when Sarah bears him a son after such a long wait, he takes the kid up a mountain to sacrifice him to the God who provided the child, who offered him the son.
         God promises blessing, and Abraham’s son Isaac was tricked out of it, and then Abraham’s one grandson gives it away twice, and the other steals it and leaves the land.
         In short, nothing.
Nothing.
Not one thing Abraham does secures the promises of God.
It’s only God’s constant faithfulness to His word
—only God keeping the relationship going
—only God protects the promise, and bears the brunt of its weight.
         God’s ongoing faithfulness—that too is part of the Faith of Abraham.

         Abraham’s faith involves:
Being claimed completely by God,
Calling on God,
Receiving a sign,
And ultimately it rests on God’s unwavering commitment.

         So too it is with us Christians
—all these things point to our own faith as well.
         We are claimed completely by God
…Hopefully we see clearly that our origin is from God, and hopefully we cling to the name we have received from God—that in Baptism we are made to be God’s Children.
         For that matter, one of the things we do when we take up the Cross, is we give over our multitude of identities and become identified with the crucified one.
         We call on God
…Hopefully we can follow Luther’s advice, and call upon God in every need, rubbing God’s promises in God’s ears, and interceding on behalf of our sisters and brothers, and the whole hurting world.
         We receive a sign
…Hopefully we are regularly fed with the bread of life
—Holy Communion
—a sign of God’s promise made solid for our sake
—a sign of God’s covenant with us
—of Christ broken to mend our break with God and with one another.
         Our faith ultimately rests on God’s unwavering commitment
Especially in this Lenten season, we recognize and repent of our threats to God’s promise. We trust not in our own merit, but instead in the merciful works of God.
In so far, as we are claimed by God
In so far, as we call upon Him.
In so far, as we receive a sign of promise from God.
In so far, as God’s ongoing faithfulness it our center.

Insofar as all that is true, we may say ours too is the faith of Abraham. Amen.

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