Tim and Jonny led today’s worship. Tim continued with the theme of looking at the highlights of the Old Testament. The Bible is mainly rooted in the history of people. The first 11 chapters are pre history, no iPads, no history books, all oral. The main purpose is to reflect God, God is , God is the creator who remembers his people.
There was probably a man called Noah. There definitely was a flood. The early writers were interested in getting us to follow God. These chapters lead us to Abram. The call of Abram is found in Chapter 12. Some 9 generations after Noah a man named Terah is born. This guy is loaded he has a big estate , father of a great family estate , lots of land, and has 3 sons, Abram, Nahor and Haran.
Tim tried to compare this to the Dallas series of the 1980s but not sure anyone was a fan! Haran has a couple of kids . Nahor marries Milkah, Haran’s daughter after he died in Ur. Abram marries Sarai and they take in Haran’s son, Lot. Abram is due to inherit a large part of the estate. Terah dies and the sons take over . But the family line is set to end because Sarai is barren and carries that pain. Then God tells Abram to leave.
This family has a theme of barrenness , Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah all go through this pain. This family of the whole earth begins life in this situation of barrenness.
Let’s be honest if we wanted to write this story we’d have started from a better place. But God had other ideas . This is a speech of God. In the New Testament we will find God’s word is a person, Jesus! Not a chapter in a book.
Easter is fast approaching, here in two weeks. It’s a celebration of resurrection, giving life to the dead and calling into existence things that don’t yet exist. People formed by Gods world. A world bringing order from chaos. God calls those who are barren and without hope into hope.
This whole story is about this contradiction that to stay in safety is to remain barren. The call to Abram is to go blindly into the future. Abram doesn’t know where he is going but God will show him. Today’s society is too focussed on self. The summons is an incredible promise . Who ever loses his life., This Sunday’s Word for , Acts 3:1 is a call for the faithful to move in life. There is an incredible promise wrapped in this call to Abram . God says “I will make…”, “I will bless…”, “I will curse..” These are the gifts of god , in the self presentation of God. Compare these with what God gave Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.
They are simply given here as a gift of God. They do however depend upon Abram receiving the gifts. The Promise concluded with a commissioning. This text hints at purpose of the church. In Galatians 3:8 Paul traces that call of the church back to Abram. The good news is God wills life and hope for all people. For all people with no qualifier, and no criteria to meet. Nothing happens if there is no verse 4, no “So Abram went.” He believed the promise of God and went! He travelled the northern shrines . The geography is not really the point though. It’s about pilgrimage and journey. Abram trusts the promise. Would we, we like to be settled and secure. No one likes change. God is a God of movement, of journeys, of stepping out in faith when called. There are numerous examples of this. God is a tent dweller he moves. Look at his Tabernacle. in Hebrews Jesus too has nowhere to lay his head . By faith Abram made his home in a foreign land, from this one man comes numerous decedents . All this from a man who because of his great age could be considered as good as dead. God calls us to be tent dwellers and it’s not one generation, not just the here and now. God’s promise assumes we pass it on to future generations. Abram enters the land, finds it full of Canaanites, he doesn’t fight them. The promise of God is hard, not easy, to believe and practice . Has to be done in the midst of others who don’t believe. Abram’s is an interesting relationship with no evidence of conflict. The Canaanites may even be a temptation. There is no evidence he tried to covert them. His task was simply to live amongst them , and he leaves altars as he moves around. Tim posed the question, “Where’s your place to connect to God, or is it maybe a simple wooden cross in your hand.” God was about to do something amazing for Abram. Abram simply responded . That’s all God wants us to do. Take the first step, let God bless others through you. Take the step even when you don’t know where the journey take you help us is to trust.
Tim then highlighted some of the inspiration behind the rewrite of the words to the hymn Jesus shall reign that we sang today. The inspiration behind this was Eric Liddell, of Chariots of Fire reputation. He was sitting in a railway station being mocked and questioned about his beliefs. His answer was simply to sing the words of the song to his mockers. Eric Liddell just sang the words to his mockers as a simple way of demonstrating that he was indeed a man not afraid to follow when God calls.
This Sunday was also the time when a small band of us went to Sheraton Court to share worship and songs with the residents. Tim, Terry, Stella, Esther, Matty and Brenda went to share some time and sing some songs. It is both humbling and a privilege. Even though we had slightly less residents in attendance this time they truly made up for it with their enthusiasm in joining in with the songs. I’ve included an extract of some of the songs, slightly croaky as some of us are still getting over colds.