St. James' Episcopal Church
Goshen, Indiana

Our 158th Year

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Sermon for August 12, 2007

Sermon of August 12, 2007
St. James’, Goshen
Arthur Hadley
Pentecost 11, proper 14

In the first lesson we heard one more time the promise God made to Abraham that his descendents would out number the stars of the sky, or the sand of the sea. This recurring promise continues even though Abraham and his wife Sarah do not have children. They lived in Ur near the mouth of the Euphrates river, and were told to go the a promised land. They travel all the way along up the river almost to what is now Turkey, they crossed over the mountains and travel down the coast of the Mediterranean Sea into Egypt. They came out of Egypt into the great desert, before entering the promised land, always hoping that the long promised child would be born. “Fear not Abram, I am your shield, and your reward will be great. Your heirs will out number the stars of the sky and the sand of the sea.” Sarah knew the promise made to Abraham and in their old age three strangers were given hospitality in the desert, and when the strangers told her that she would conceive and have a son by next spring, she laughed.

In the second lesson we hear the definition of faith: Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive.
By faith he sojourned to the land of promise.
By faith he lived in tents with his son Isaac, and grandson Jacob heirs with him of the same promised land.

But listen to the story of faith. Abraham and Sara whined and complained to God; God you promised us heirs to out number the stars and the sand of the sea, but we still have no children. Oh they went out toward the promised land with a hope, but whined and complained when the hoped for child and promised land was not easily attained. The promise was given by God and fulfilled by God when it was no longer humanly possible. Abraham and Sarah had tried and tried to have a child, but nothing happened. They had wandered north and west, south and east, but had not come to the promised land. They had worked and even grown wealthy with flock s sheep and goats, with herds of cattle, servants -slaves. But there was no child to be heir to their great wealth. And they whined and complained to God saying you promised.

The faith which is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen is not the Faith of Abraham and Sara. It is the faithfulness of God. God promised them a land and descendents, and God delivered when it was no longer humanly possible.

We live by faith not works. We live by God’s faith; his faithfulness. We do not live into the salvation offered by God’s promise by our works, our treasures, but by God’s gift and faithfulness to deliver when it is no longer humanly possible.

Thanks be to God.

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