“God Comes To Us And Makes Promises”

Sermon – 07-17-22 – Proper 11 – Cycle C
Scripture – Genesis 18:1-10a; Psalm 15; Colossians 1:15-28; Luke 10:38-42
Sermon Title: “God Comes To Us And Makes Promises”

Three visitors and one is God. Yessiree! God comes to Abraham and Sarah in their old age on a big spread of land and many cattle. AND God renews his promise to them; the one God made to them ages ago when they were much younger.

Much later, God comes to every creature under heaven with another promise – the promise of the gospel. It is only through the fulfilled promise to Abraham and Sarah that the second promise could be kept. Do you know that Sarah laughs, practically in God’s face, when God renews his promise that day when he and two other people arrive at the tent dwelling of Abraham and Sarah unannounced? They just appear. God as a man. I am always surprised when I read this story. At first, Abrahm did not realize that one of the men was God. But Abraham offered very gracious hospitality to these three visitors..

What is this promise that needs to be renewed because, so far, it has not been fulfilled? The promise is that Sarah and Abraham will have as many descendants as there are stars in the sky and grains of sand on the beach. The One who is God, renews the promise with these words, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah, standing at the door of the tent, laughs. And in due time, Isaac is born as the promise fulfilled.

And Isaac became the father of Jacob who became the father of Joseph whose brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt where Joseph became second in command to the Pharoah. The story goes on as the Israelites follow Joseph to Egypt in a famine. Moses is born to an Israelite family. Moses is the “lucky” person whom God chooses to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land which is part of the original promise God made to the younger, childless Abraham.

It is tempting to think that Moses is part of the lineage from Jacob to Jesus but apparently not. It seems that even Joseph is not part of the direct lineage to Jesus. One of Joseph’s eleven brothers is Judah. Mention is made in the Bible that Judah is the brother who suggests selling Joseph rather than killing Joseph. God provides for Judah to be given the privilege of being a direct descendant of Jesus. David gets a huge spot in the limelight part way between Judah and Jesus. But, eventually the lineage gets to Jesus.

Now for the promise we meet in Colossians. Today’s passage in Colossians is a gem. It is the power and the glory of Christ Jesus. It explains who Jesus Christ is and why he is. Even though I try not to repeat too much of the lessons that were already read to us but this passage is very enlightening. If we want to share our belief in Christ with a neighbor or a friend or a stranger, this would be the passage to use. It sparkles.

Each time we hear or read a writing we remember more; we understand more. So, hear now our second reading for the second time, remembering that Jesus is one of the three persons of God and therefore was present when God created the world and was part of the creation process.

Colossians 1:15-28 (NRSV)
Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.

He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Enter John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

Enter us! Enter us who are the benefactors of this promise that we call the gospel. In all of our unkindnesses, accidental or otherwise, we are forgiven and restored time after time into the promise of eternal life in the presence of this holiness. Eternal life starts now because Christ is in us now. Paul explains that he, Paul, is chosen as an instrument to pass this promise to the intended receivers. And who are the intended receivers? Every person under heaven – that is who is intended to know and claim this promise.

Paul is not the only instrument chosen by God to promote this promise to all people. God used the lineage before and after Christ to be part of this great “promise movement.” First to a few people, then more people; to the Israelites, but not stopping there. Think Peter and the revelation that happened to him. Peter witnessed a family of Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit. We are the Gentiles. We can also have Christ dwelling within our hearts, souls, and minds. We are included in this promise.

We can embrace this promise to ourselves. We can pass this promise to our children or nieces and nephews. Are we doing this? What about our neighbors? We are so reluctant to do this. This past week it happened that I was renewing a relationship with a high school classmate who had become part of my life after high school and then our paths separated. Life brought us together again recently by way of a class reunion. During our telephone conversation she was speaking her faith as part of the conversation. The words flowed naturally. She lives with her faith shining from her; her faith in this Christ Jesus, who dwells inside her being. She is sharing her faith so that everyone she meets will catch it and claim it. Maybe you live that way also. Maybe people can’t help but notice that something is living inside you that gives you hope – that your relationship with Christ who dwells within you is displayed for all to see.

In our gospel lesson, Mary and Martha are given to us as examples of how we might claim this promise of Christ within us for now and for all eternity. Mary, the devotee of Christ, and Martha, in the name of hospitality is a devotee of “tasks,” seem to be opposites. I think that each of us has some Mary and some Martha within us. The goal is to have our Mary tendencies be stronger than our Martha tendencies.

May Christ dwell within us and may we pass this promise to everyone who is watching us!

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