Isaiah 1:1, 10-20. Isaiah prophesies against God’s people, expressing God’s displeasure at their worship and sacrifices while injustice remains among them. God invites the people to repent and confess, and if they do, God promises to cleanse and restore them.
Psalm 50:1-8, 23-24. God comes in judgement on God’s people, inviting them to offer genuine sacrifices of thanksgiving, and promising God’s salvation if they will do this.
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16. Abraham is an example of faith, giving up his homeland and living as a foreigner in a strange land for the sake of a God-given inheritance.
Luke 12:32-40. Jesus promises God’s kingdom to those who follow Christ, inviting them to give up temporary, material security and wealth for heavenly security and riches. He encour-ages them to stay awake and be aware of God’s coming.
Rev Tania writes:
It may come as a surprising thought that the ‘blessings’ we receive and enjoy have the potential to make us less Christ-like, but, depending on how we understand God’s promises and the goodness God gives, this can be the case. When we view wealth, success or power as unquestionable signs of God’s blessing, we are in danger of departing from the Gospel’s call to align ourselves with the least, and to find God’s blessing in community and sharing. This is the challenge of the readings this week.
Much is made of the promises of God in some circles, but little is said about the ‘cost’ of receiving God’s promises. Essentially this cost arises because God’s promises are always offered to the community, not just to the individual.
And so, Abram is promised innumerable descendants, but must give up his homeland to live among foreigners (as the Hebrews readings explains). In Isaiah’s prophecy, God’s people can be cleansed and restored, but they must embrace justice and mercy. In the Psalm, God’s salvation is offered to those who, like Abram, will trust in God’s mercy.
Finally, Jesus promises the Kingdom to his followers, but they have to release their faith in human or material resources, and commit to remaining always awake and aware to God’s coming – which, if we read the verses following the set section, is strongly linked with how we view and treat others.
A great ‘hook’ for this week is the phrase “descendants of Abram”, for Abram’s story is the model for the faith we are called to this week – a commitment to trust in God and a willingness to discover & share God’s promises of grace and mercy in and with the “other”, the foreigner, the ones who seek justice, the ones we are called to serve.
May your worship this week lead you into a new sense of connectedness with others, and a new generosity in sharing the grace and mercy of God.
Blessings as we grow in love of God and each other! Rev Tania