Greetings to the Holy People of God,
In Matthew 5, Jesus tells us we are the light of the world. I hope you will read through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 to help inform your idea of what it means to be the light of the world. As think about my witness and our witness as a community to the world, I look back to Genesis. Our adult forum on Sunday mornings has been studying Genesis. We are in the place where God is building a nation to help the world know their creator. Nation building is a long and arduous process. First we see how God shapes Abraham. For Abraham and Sarah there is so much waiting. And it is when they are old that God does his best work, creating in them what they cannot create themselves and Isaac is born.
In the waiting time, both Abraham and Sarah attempt to get the process moving, acting on God’s promise to build a nation through them. Abraham tries to pass his wife off as his sister with Kings more than happy to take Sarah into their fold and Sarah offering her handmaiden, Hagar to provide the heir that Sarah cannot produce and Ishmael is born. What is God up to in this waiting time? God is gracious and patient. Abraham and Sarah are definitely being shaped through this experience. It is almost as if God is replaying the Adam and Eve story again. Will they turn to God or will they take for themselves? Like Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah repeat the story. And God continues in faithfulness to shape these people.
God decides that Abraham should have some foreknowledge of what will happen to the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah because Abraham will become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him. Abraham has been chosen, singled out to teach his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is just and right so that God may bring about what God has promised. So Abraham enters into his first ethical debate with God as Abraham pleas for the life of his nephew, Lot and his family and mercy and justice come head to head. And God is both just and merciful as the towns are destroyed and Lot and his daughters are saved.
Once Isaac is born, Sarah demands that Hagar and her son Ishmael leave. I wonder what would have happened if Ishmael and Isaac had grown up together? Would it have been the same fate as Cain and Able? In the next generation Esau and Jacob part ways to ensure the life of Jacob and the continued building of the nation through which God blesses the world.
Soon after their departure, God puts Abraham to the ultimate test in the binding of Isaac for sacrifice. It is an awful test of Abraham’s loyalties and his love. He has sent one son away and now another to be bound in sacrifice to God. Abraham loves his sons and he loves God. Abraham’s first loyalty was to God. He has learned over much time to love and trust God.
As this family navigated God’s shaping and forming them to be a great nation, I see God’s active hand in the mix. As I reflect on what it means for us to be a light to the world, these stories of God’s nation building come to mind. And I turn once again to God. And I ask you to turn to God as we shine in this world. I ask you to pray. Pray for our council and the LEAD process that that Mary Knudson-Dion, Matt Orvick, Susan Surom and myself will embark upon. Pray for our soon to be Director of Youth and Family Ministry as we make our preparations of putting together a job description and continuing to financially support this position. Keep turning to God, learning to trust God as we journey along, shining on the corner of Melrose and Mormon Trek.
Believing It Boldly Loving Everyday,
Pastor Connie Spitzack