Tag Archives: Genesis 2:3

Seeking Sarah’s Tomb

The Narrative Lectionary that Resurrection Lutheran Church is using this year skips through the Old Testament at a fast pace. This coming Sunday we will be studying Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. But before I shift our focus to Joseph and Egypt, I want to examine one final story of Abraham. In Genesis 23, Abraham’s beloved wife Sarah dies and he must find her a tomb.

When God first called Abraham, God promised him land and descendants. When Abraham arrived in Canaan, the Lord said to him, “To your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7). His descendants will be as many as the stars of sky.  Yet as Abraham nears death, he has only one son and no land. Is God’s promise ever to be reality? Have you, like Abraham, ever wondered if God’s promises would become reality for you?

After Sarah’s death, Abraham goes to the Hittites who own the surrounding land and says, “I am a stranger and an alien residing among you; give me property among you for a burying-place, so that I may bury my dead.” (Genesis 23:4). The Hittites recognize Abraham as a great man and are willing to give him a burial site for his wife. But Abraham does not want a “gift” or “honorary guest” burial site; he wants to own the burial site with proper title. He wants something permanent and legal that can be passed on to future generation.

Abraham is willing to pay top dollar for it. (A stewardship sermon is buried in that verse!)  After skillful negotiation, he purchases the small field of Ephron in Machpelah where he buries his wife in a cave in the field (Genesis 23:15-19). Years later Abraham is buried there as well.

At first, a burial plot may seem like a useless, pathetic fulfillment of God’s great promise to Abraham and Sarah. Is this all the land God can give?  Yet it is the first step in God’s patient, enduring plan of salvation. It becomes a sign of hope and possibility.

After all, as Christians, we remember that God’s plan of restoration culminated in the empty burial tomb of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Jesus’ empty tomb is the first step, the first fruits, of a new heaven and a new earth.

 Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died (I Corinthians 15:20).

In what ways does God give you hope in difficult times?

Lord Jesus, you are my rock and shield, give me the hope I need this day.

On the seventh day they had a picnic

Yesterday was the kick-off to the fall season for Resurrection Lutheran. Under bright beautiful sky we had our church picnic after worship. The tempting smell of grilled brats, the energetic conversation of friends and neighbors and the loud squeal of dunk-tank participants permeated our church grounds. In the morning worship I joked that for one afternoon we would be Resurrection “Baptist” Church as people were fully submerged in the dunk tank. When my turn came, I was thankful for the cool water on a very warm afternoon.

Two thoughts popped in and out of my head as we celebrated our Vibrant Life in Christ. They both arose from our worship text in the morning: Genesis 1 where God creates the heavens and the earth. Throughout the chapter there is the constant refrain: “And God saw that it was good.” The goodness of God’s creation was being experienced by picnic participants; the joy and wonder on their faces reflected that goodness.

A second thought followed the first. The thought came from part of the Genesis story that I had skipped over in my morning sermon.

So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it because on it God rested from all the work he had done in creation. Genesis 2:3.

God’s rest on the seventh day is a powerful reminder that as God’s creatures we need rest as well. The third commandment flows from this: Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. I sensed that many of us were “resting” at our church picnic, even as we scurried around. Much of my normal week is spent sitting indoors/the opportunity to be outdoors, enjoying a beautiful fall afternoon was restful. And when I engage in meaning conversation with other saints it is holy. The morning worship and the afternoon picnic provided me with a healthy dose of rest and remembrance.

Pastor John becomes John the Baptized

And, to top it off, I had the opportunity to remember my baptism as I went into the tank!

How do you find ways to remember the day of rest?

Lord Jesus, help me to remember the gift of the Sabbath each week.