A Son of Laughter

2019-07-21 – Year C – Proper 11 – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas

Genesis 18:1-14; Psalm 15; Colossians 1:21-25; Luke 10:38-42

Hospitality

  • Walt Disney is probably best remembered for his creation of Mickey Mouse and other cartoon characters. But his greatest legacy has to be his vision for hospitality.
    • He was obsessed with providing the guests at his parks with remarkable experiences. He was concerned about the smallest of details like the locations of garbage cans. His hospitality philosophy still governs the parks that bear his name today.
    • Walt Disney didn’t invent the concept of hospitality. It has been around for ages.
  • Middle Eastern hospitality – Hospitality was an important value in Middle Eastern Culture and it remains so today. This was especially true of the people of Israel.
    • The Law commanded them to show hospitality, even to strangers, because they were once strangers in a foreign land.
  • When Abraham sees these visitors in our passage today, he urges them to stay and then hurries to tell Sarah and his servants to prepare a lavish meal.
  • There is no indication that Abraham knows who these visitors are at this point. He is upholding a cultural value to be an excellent host.
  • “As far as Abraham was concerned, his warm-hearted hospitality was just the proper way to entertain visitors. But is the reader, who knows who they are, also meant to reflect on how appropriate these offerings are? Elsewhere in the Pentateuch “best wheat flour” is only used in cereal offerings and for making the bread of the presence, and the regulations about the sacrifice constantly insist on the necessity of offering only top-quality animals. The narrative may be hinting that he is behaving more wisely than he realized.”

Theophany

  • This story is an example of what we call a “theophany” or an appearance of God.
  • There are a number of these theophanies throughout the Old Testament.
  • “Theophanies served to forcibly impress upon God’s people the existence and sovereignty of God as well as to assure them of God’s presence with and concern for his people.”
  • As the story progresses, it becomes clear that these visitors didn’t just happen to pass by, they came with a very important message.
  • The message was not for Abraham. Abraham had already been told of God’s promise for a son. This day the message was for Sarah. Genesis 18:9.

Sarah’s Bitter Laugh

  • Genesis 18:10b–12
  • “Now when Abraham’s wife, Sarah, heard God’s promise, she just laughed to herself. But it wasn’t a happy laugh, it had tears in it. She had always wanted a baby, could her dream come true? Could she really have a baby when she was 90 years old? No, of course not, don’t be silly, it was far too late. Sarah didn’t believe what God had promised” (Jesus Storybook Bible, 59).
  • God had promised this son long before this moment. But after years of waiting Sarah had ceased to believe it would come true. After all, she was well past her childbearing years. This passage even specifically mentions this fact (Genesis 18:11).
  • This situation shows us two common responses as we wait for God’s promises.
    • 1. We take matters into our own hands and try to make them come true in our own time. This is what Sarah did when she gave her maidservant, Hagar, to Abraham in the hope that a son would come through Hagar. That didn’t end well!
    • 2. We lose faith and cease to believe that God’s promise will come true at all.
  • We are called to a third way. Waiting with Patience – Romans 8:24b-25.
    • God’s timing can be a mystery to us. And we are often impatient by nature. But God calls us to wait for him and to continue to believe.
    • Carrie and I knew that God was sending us out from the seminary and back into parish ministry years before he brought us to you. We waited and prayed for a long time, sometimes wondering if it would ever happen.
  • What are you hoping for? What have you been patiently praying for a long time?
    • I know many of you are praying for your children to turn to the Lord.
    • I know some of you are praying for a change in your health.
    • Maybe you are praying for something that you haven’t mentioned to anyone.
    • These are the deep desires of our hearts, and the Lord does hear them.
      • We need to listen for his voice in these matters and then keep praying into them until we see the fulfillment he has promised.

Faith

  • Genesis 18:14 – “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
    • NO! He created everything and he is sovereign over all of it.
    • After hearing these words, Sarah puts her faith in God to do the impossible.
      • Hebrews 11:11 – Not just Abraham’s faith, but Sarah’s as well.
  • One year later, the Lord returns to Sarah just as he promised, and when he returns, Sarah has a son.
    • Genesis 21:2-3 – God’s promise comes through and Abraham names his son “Isaac” which means “he laughs”.
      • Genesis 21:6 – Sarah says “who would have thought…”
  • No matter what you are going through, God is powerful and mighty. He is able to do even impossible things, when he promises something, it is as good as done, but we need to wait with patience.

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Discussion

  1. fred shively

    Thank you Chris for another excellent well timed message.

    Fred

    1. Christopher Klukas

      You’re welcome, Fred. I’m glad it was a blessing to you! Grace and Peace, Chris+

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