“And the Lord God brought Abraham outside [his tent] and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to Abraham, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And Abraham believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:5-6; cf. Romans 4:3,9; Galatians 3:6)
In our Old Testament reading for this coming weekend, our forebears in the faith – Abraham and Sarah – offer a wonderful witness as to how Christian hope can only be based on God’s promise. For our days can also become skirted by clouds that block our vision from the stars … clouds of doubt, dis-ease, despair … “How long, O Lord, must we wait?” (see also Psalm 13:1-6; 35:17-18; Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4) … But then again, it is precisely into such barren times – when the gestation period of God’s justice and mercy seem so long in coming – that God fills us up – speaking his creative and renewing word of reassurance. No, they’re not words written in the stars but written into the raw stuff of our lives – mangered and mingled under the Bethlehem star of One who says to us, as with Abraham and Sarah, again this day: “Don’t be afraid. Press on toward the promised vision. I’m with you always, even to the end of the age. Be merciful. Feed my lambs. Teach your children in the ways of godliness. Risk. Whoever loses one’s life for my sake and my gospel will save it. Take up your cross and follow me. Trust in my promise, for you have my Word on it. Cross my heart.”
Let us pray: Lord, we give you thanks for your Holy Word that breaks in upon our self-centered darkness and doubt … a Word that calls us to trust in you ABOVE EVERYTHING ELSE … Yes, the very same Word that came to Abraham and Sarah of old, to us right NOW … in-spiring us to lean upon your almighty promise: to “count the stars” rather than the cost; to “count our blessings” rather than our losses; to “count on your forgiveness and grace” and know that you make all-things-new (Revelation 21:5). Old-fashioned? NO. But eternally NEW, NOW. In the name of Jesus Christ – your Word made flesh – we pray. AMEN.
“Look at the stars! Look, look up at the skies. O look at all the fire-folk of faith sitting in the air [cheering us on].”
(Gerard Manley Hopkins; The Starlit Night)
dr. j.r. christopherson