The mix of faith and uncertainty evident in Abram’s story is revealed in every generation of God’s people, including our own. In our own doubt and insecurity, we’re tempted to question God’s presence as we struggle in the day to day realities that challenge us. I’d bet that there are more than a few folks here who’ve had questions about their faith at one time or another. It’s those things that help us understand our own individual journey. And they’re also the things that bring comfort and understanding for us as a Family – as we walk together in this community of Faith.
By the time we get to the story that’s our first lesson from Genesis, Abram has just about had it with God. He’s been patient for a while. God speaks to him, and he listens… God promises, and he believes… God commands, and he obeys. But we get the sense that he’s just about reached his tipping point and has a few questions of his own.
Abram, the great model of patience and faithfulness, finally confronts God asking ‘just how is this going to work- having a child…and not only that, but when… After all, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not getting any younger, and neither is Sarah. A little bit of information, some detail would be appreciated.’
And so, once again, God reassures him and tells him that it will happen. God tells him that what will happen is beyond what he or what anyone can imagine. He doesn’t exactly say where or when – he doesn’t give too much away. After all, remember God is talking about so much more than just becoming parents – it’s not just about having a son. Look at the stars, he says – that’s how many will be your descendants – there are just way too many to count. And, by the way, now is just not the right time. Not yet.
Although he might not understand – clearly he doesn’t understand – but good old Abram is content with God’s answer… Content, but still has questions. Because of his faith he believes that God can and that God will do something about it.
The Gospel this morning is also about time – about the right time, the appointed time. As he’s nearing the end of his journey, Jesus continues to walk, faithful and committed to God, even with all of the obstacles in his way. Jesus is headed off to the city of promise, the holy city of Jerusalem, on his way to fulfill God’s mission for him. And on the way, he confronts Herod. Remember Herod – the brutal, callous ruler – the one who claimed the head of John the Baptist. Herod is threatened by Jesus; wondering if he’s the one that was sent to replace John in one way or another.
Although he knows what’s ahead and has already said it out loud, Jesus refuses to play it safe. There’s tension and conflict – behavior that puts him at risk…because he knows how precious the gift of time is. He willingly moves ahead toward the cross even as what he already knows about what lies ahead becomes clear to others. Jesus embraces his fears and his trust in God – and moves toward, rather than away from the conflict. Throughout his life, Jesus has been willing to confront his enemies, showing us the way of discipleship, the way of life for us in the faith.
As he writes from prison, Paul’s letter to the people and to us is counter-cultural and also about time. Time here and in eternity. The promise of life for those who have their citizenship in heaven is transformed by the body of Christ, and by the glory of God. We’re incorporated into that body by baptism, which transforms us and unites us as people of God, giving us a new set of values; a different source of power; different goals. And it identifies us as a servant people, whose work and mission it is to follow and serve Jesus Christ, in this time and in this place. And is an invitation to live together, in eternal life.
Our lessons this morning are about time – about the right time – and in our Gospel, the appointed time. Lent is an opportunity for us to think about this time and our own lives of faith and discipleship. We live expectantly that God’s promises in this life and hope in a new life with Christ guides us and leads us. And it’s a journey that we make together. Always at just the right time. God’s time. Amen.