Sunday July 9th – God Alone is Trustworthy
The First Reading from Genesis 24:34-67
34So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become wealthy; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and donkeys.36And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and he has given him all that he has. 37My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live; 38but you shall go to my father’s house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son.’ 42“I came today to the spring, and said, ‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now you will only make successful the way I am going! 43I am standing here by the spring of water; let the young woman who comes out to draw, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” 44and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also” —let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’ 45“Before I had finished speaking in my heart, there was Rebekah coming out with her water jar on her shoulder; and she went down to the spring, and drew. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’ 46She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder, and said, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels.’ So I drank, and she also watered the camels. 47Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her arms. 48Then I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to obtain the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. 49Now then, if you will deal loyally and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so that I may turn either to the right hand or to the left.” 58And they called Rebekah, and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will.” 59So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men.60And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “May you, our sister, become thousands of myriads; may your offspring gain possession of the gates of their foes.” 61Then Rebekah and her maids rose up, mounted the camels, and followed the man; thus the servant took Rebekah, and went his way. 62Now Isaac had come from Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb.63Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming. 64And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, 65and said to the servant, “Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. 66And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew 11:16-19,25-30
16“But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, 17‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ 18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’;19the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” 25At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
God alone is Trustworthy – a Homily by Mother Beth
In preparing to teach Vacation Bible School one year a co-leader and I looked over the lessons together. All of the Bible Stories are taken from the Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible. We were looking at the lives of Moses, Esther, Daniel, Jeremiah and Joshua. The curriculum offered a tie-in to the gospels for each day but my co-leader and I were discussing the fact that these great stories quite easily stand on their own. For sure all of scripture points to the gospel and we should quick to acknowledge that the Old Testament and New Testament both point to the same God – the Creator of the Universe. But my co-leader and I were talking about how great the life lessons and stories of the Old Testament are.
In fact, I should tell you, I am an Old Testament gal – I love those great adventure stories – the superhero scale of things – the God who triumphs when all looks lost. Those stories captured my heart and imagination as a young girl – I read and re-read them.
I encourage you if you have not read through Genesis and Exodus especially you should do so. Find an easy to read translation and read through several chapters at a time so that you get the rhythm and theme of the story. Alright, point made – Now I will move on to the lesson for today.
We come into the story of Abraham and Isaac at a time shortly after Sarah (Isaac’s mother) has died and Abraham realizes that Isaac needs to take a wife. Isaac’s wife will be the matriarch of the family. This story is important because Isaac is supposed to carry on Abraham’s family line and as a bachelor there is a problem – no kids means no one to take over from you – so God’s promise to Abraham that he would be a great nation and his descendants would be as many as the stars in the sky – could end right here. So Abraham sends his servant back to the land of Nahor (where he came from back in Genesis 12) so that Isaac can marry someone from his own tribe – his own extended family.
There are a couple of things to note here – 1) the servant is not named although some people think it is Eleazar who before Ishmael and Isaac came along would have inherited all of Abraham’s wealth. But really the point is the servant is not named because the story is not about him – it is about Isaac and his wife to be. 2) Isaac does not go himself – the servant is sent on his behalf because he is too upset to go but more importantly Abraham has no intention of sending Isaac back to the place from which he has come. The future is ahead of them.
The faith and trust of God is amazing in this story – Abraham trusts that God will direct his servant to bring back a wife for his son. The verses that the lectionary leaves out make it clear as Abraham says, “‘The Lord, before whom I walk, will send his angel with you and make your way successful.”
This is more than an arranged marriage – this is a divinely ordained marriage. This marriage is arranged by supernatural intervention. Abraham makes it clear that his trust is in God so much so that he promises that the servant will not be held responsible for the results – just go and do and say what I have instructed you to do and if no one comes with you then you are released from the process. God directs and works through people but we are not to put our trust in the person but in God. As I said last week, Abraham trusts that God has a plan and that God’s plan is better than anything that he can imagine for himself.
Doesn’t that sound familiar? Each week at the end of the Eucharist we say,. Glory to God whose power working in us can do more than we can ask or imagine. Who are you trusting? Who are you not trusting? God is trustworthy. We hear these stories so that they will remind us of all the times and in all the ways that God has proven Himself to be trustworthy.
So the servant goes and does what Abraham has told him – he stops at a well and prays that God will make him successful in his quest. You might realize that wells are places where people meet – Jacob will meet Rachel at a well, Moses meets his wife Zipporah at a well – it is a common meeting place.
The servant makes a plan with God about what he will say and how he will recognize who is the right girl. He decides that he will ask for a drink and will know it is the right person when the woman not only is willing to give him a drink but volunteers to water the camels also.
Her willingness to go above and beyond what she is asked will demonstrate – openness and hospitality.
Just as the servant finishes praying, Rebekah approaches the well and fulfills his request. When he asks about her lineage it turns out that she is the daughter of Isaac’s cousin so the servant realizes this is the one that God has sent him for.
Rebekah’s willingness to go with the servant to meet a man that she has never seen demonstrates tremendous faith. She is not forced to go – she chooses to go and it is her willingness to cooperate and fulfill God’s plan that makes her part of something so much bigger. She now becomes part of the line of faith. Rebekah demonstrates a similar faith to that of Abraham who left his home for an unknown land to respond to God’s call.
The family wants Rebekah to stay with them for ten more days and be prepared to marry but the servant refuses to wait and the question is posed to Rebekah, “will you go with this man?” Will you seize this opportunity or will you let tradition or reason delay you? Rebekah heeds the call – “Yes, I will go with this man!”
In what ways have we responded to God’s call? In what ways have we delayed responding because we wanted to get our act together first – there were plans to be made and traditions to observe?
My own story of being called to ministry took a roundabout way of being fulfilled. From an early age my heart was captivated by God and by these stories of faith. I held many positions in church – Sunday School teacher, and Bible Study leader. I worked for Youth for Christ and Campus Crusade for Christ and then as an adult I worked for Pioneer Clubs in their head office and whenever I felt like God was calling me to pursue a calling to the ordained ministry, I would justify my position by saying that I have done as much as I need to do. I went to tour a Bible School in the States and I looked for every possible problem that I could find so that I could say no, it is not right for me to go. I met Steve and we got married – he was in fulltime ministry as a youth minister and so I worked alongside him and did everything I could to support his ministry but God kept calling me. And for the longest time, I kept saying, I think I am doing enough. Plus, I said my kids are young and now is not a good time.
Many people had come and talked to me on different occasions about being called to ministry – some I suspect I rudely put off – Yes, I have thought about it and NO it is not for me! Finally, when we moved to Barrie, Ontario, Canada in 2006, I was willing to think about going back to school and hearing what God would say to me.
I tell you this not to say that you are all called to go back to seminary and become ordained ministers but to say that I know what it is like to feel the constant nudging and to ignore it – I know what it is like to be presented with an opportunity and to not be ready to embrace it. God is trustworthy – his track record speaks to his faithfulness. May God help us to be open and willing to respond when God calls as Rebekah was with the servant – Yes, I will go! And if we have not yet heard that call, may God be faithful to keep calling and nudging until we are ready to hear and respond. Amen.