God: “Don’t be afraid. I am your shield. Also, the payoff will be well worth your while.”
Abram, asking for a friend: “What kind of payoff? My friend might not be afraid if they know how big the reward will be. But right now, things don’t look promising.”
God: “It’ll be seriously big. Land. Children. Fame.”
Abram, still asking for a friend: “How can my friend be certain? They haven’t forgotten the whole flood trauma.”
Abraham — the great ancestor in faith, the oft-cited model of stepping into the unknown to follow God’s call, the patriarch of generations as vast as the stars — was a doubter, a negotiator with God, and a hedger of bets. Thank God! Personally, I consider it an act of faith to ask God for guarantees — not because such guarantees will be given, but because it means I’ve laid every doubt & fear & you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me on the table in honesty with God.
Sermon Prompt: In all honesty, how do you bridge doubt and faith, disbelief and trust, in that long season between the labor and the reward, between the call to go and the arrival at the destination?
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Some Pharisees warned Jesus, “It’s not safe here!”
Jesus replied, “Systemic swindlers and professional fools are never safe. That doesn’t change my work.”
And then he said to the whole community, “Keep your swindlers and fools — you choose them more often than not! If your leaders come looking for me, tell them to follow the signs of love and healing. But you yourselves won’t recognize me until I return with the same fanfare as the fools you prefer.”
Jesus — our teacher and brother, our shepherd and savior, our comfort and our claim — is not the meek and mild messiah we prefer him to be. And thank God … but truth be told, we’re more familiar with foxes-dressed-as-messiahs (and just plain old foxes-dressed-as-foxes) than we are with messiahs-dressed-as-no-nonsense-hens. Jesus calls us out as he sees how we are — and those we enable too.
Sermon Prompt: In all honesty, what holds us back from calling a fox a fox, and why are we so deeply invested in unjust systemic safety — even to the point of restraining our response to Christ’s call?
* * *
This coming Sunday’s Revised Common Lectionary texts invite us into honesty — about ourselves, about our faith, about our local/global communities. How are you preaching this Sunday, RevGals & Pals? How’s your sermon prep progressing?
In the comments, share your blogposts, your musings, your questions, and your contextual complications, to encourage one another toward Sunday.
Rachel G. Hackenberg‘s book with co-author Martha Spong, Denial Is My Spiritual Practice (and Other Failures of Faith), searches for faith through life’s trials. Rachel has also written Writing to God and Sacred Pause.
RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.