Hoping Against Hope – Br. David Vryhof

Br. David Vryhof

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Romans 4:13-25

The promise first came to Abram when he was already 75 years old!  God said, “I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great…. In you, all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:2-3).  It was unthinkable even then, unimaginable, impossible, given his age and the barrenness of Sarai’s womb.  But Abram believed God.

The second promise came eleven years later, when Abram was 86 years old!  This time, Abram questioned God, “You have given me no offspring… [Is one of my slaves to become my heir]?” (Gen. 15:3) and God replied, “[No]. Your very own issue will be your heir… Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.  So shall you descendants be” (Gen. 15:5). And, once again, Abram believed God.

But as time went on and there was still no heir, his faith wavered.  Abram and Sarai decided to help God out by taking matters into their own hands.  So, Abram slept with Sarai’s servant and she conceived and bore him a son, Ishmael.  But this was not God’s plan.

The third and final promise came thirteen years after the second.  Abram was 99 years old and Sarai 90.  Still, they had not conceived.  Their dream of having a child had withered over time and finally evaporated completely.  They knew it was now physically impossible.  They had no reasonable hope.  But God insisted, “You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations.  I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you” (Gen. 17:4,6). This time, Abram laughed (Gen. 17:17). Read More

Learning to Pray – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke Ditewig

Genesis 18:20-32
Luke 11:1-13

In our lesson from Genesis, we hear the second half of a story. The first part, which we heard last week, is more familiar which Abraham welcomes three strangers, prepares a feast for them, and hears a promise God to which Sarah laughs.[i] Here we continue as three guests move on, and God and Abraham have a serious after-dinner conversation, one-on-one. Many translations, including the one we use, say Abraham is standing before God as in previous visits. Some scholars point out, remarkably and uncomfortably, that God is standing before Abraham.[ii] It’s a shocking reversal of power, position, relationship and an unusual conversation. Read More

The Poverty of God – Br. Jim Woodrum

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:22-30; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  With those words we begin the season of Lent; a season that the prayer book describes as one of ‘penitence and fasting.’  It is traditional for people to give up something during Lent; something that is a part of the daily fabric of their lives, perhaps something that is a treat or is looked forward to regularly for comfort.  For instance, many people give up drinking their favorite soda, or eating chocolate.  Others may give up watching a favorite TV show or spending time on social media.  Whatever it is, when we are triggered by habit or desire for this creature comfort, its absence ultimately serves to remind us of our ‘poverty.’  Read More