That "getting up" feeling...
Proper 6 Year A
Genesis 18:1-15, 21:1-7
Paul begins the 4th chapter of Romans by asking "What then shall we say about Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?"
Paul thinks it's a good question. It took him the remainder of Romans 4 and most of Galatians 3 to address it. Today we're starting small. This Sunday at church we will begin to read the stories of the Patriarchs in the Book of Genesis and we begin right at the beginning - with Abraham - the lead actor in the first chapter of the history of salvation.
What we can say at the "get go" is that Abraham (or Abram as he was first known) “got up from a sitting position” when God's messengers approached. It may not seem like much but it holds the key to what happens next.
Coupled with this Sunday’s Gospel reading about the Jesus sending out the twelve disciples on their first mission trip, our Sunday narrative begins to look like this:
God draws near to a Bedouin tent in the presence of three angels. Abram gets up from sitting at the mouth of his tent and goes out to greet them.
The twelve disciples are sent out by Jesus into the villages of the Galilee. They are to witness and minister to those who will welcome them gladly.
And you thought of the Bible as a book filled with God’s acts?
Add up the human responses as well, why dont you – they’re there in droves.
The divine initiative and the human response work in concert. Two hands come together in prayer or applause. Two paddles propel the canoe up the stream. A word is spoken and there is an ear to hear that word - lips and feet and hands to put the word into action. It takes two.
God waits rather a lot, in the Bible, to see what the man, the woman or the young person will do. He awaits some decision – some forward impulse which drives a person towards love, towards relationship and towards a new horizon.
We will not dwell on the negative. Jesus does not counsel the disciples to react with grief or anger (or even crippling self-criticism) in the face of villagers who spurn their ministry. The disciples have their instructions – they are to continue to the next village and to find that “getting up feeling” in others who are not yet reached.
What do you read here which touches you? What falls to you then - young and old - at your various crossroads? It depends on who you are, I suppose. Disciples of long service? Enquirers standing at the edge of committed discipleship or, for that matter, lounging around in the shade? Who are you in these readings?
And is there a word here that points to the possibility of your beginnings? Get up from your cushions! Is there a word here which encourages you to continue in spite of misadventure? Carry on to the next village!