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

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

Get Outraged – Br. James Koester

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

Those of you who were here when I last preached will remember that I began by telling you how much fun I was having listening to, and preaching from the Gospel of Mark. Mark is fun because he is so breathless. He races us through one scene and then plunges us headlong into the next before we have time to catch our breath or ponder the significance of what has just happened. It’s like being doused with a pail of cod water, and before we have time to cry out in outrage we are doused with a second pail of even colder water. Today is no different. We have just been doused with cold water and almost before we have had time to register our shock, a second and third pail of equally cold and equally icy water hits us. Read More

The Covenant with Abraham and his Descendants – Br. Curtis Almquist

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

If you have the opportunity to travel to the Holy Land, you inevitably experience a great diversity of people – Jews, Muslims, and Christians – all of whom lay claim on the land, and on their own particular narrative of history: what has happened there, down through the centuries, and why.  Read More