Romans 4: 13-25 (NRSVA)
13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
16 For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17 as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations’, according to what was said, ‘So numerous shall your descendants be.’ 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 Therefore his faith ‘was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ 23 Now the words, ‘it was reckoned to him’, were written not for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
Abraham was a wanderer, settling in hospitable places for a while to accumulate wealth and prosperity, at other times moving on because of the stringencies of famine. He wended his way through Babylon, Canaan and Egypt and would have had much exposure to the customs and religions of those cultures in trading, negotiating, establishing friendships, politicking. There must have been many enticements to leave or dilute the faith of his heritage. Yet this itinerant pastoralist listened for the voice of God and when he heard it, he believed what he heard. A simple but profound act of persistent faith. Belief against all hope, against the odds of old age and halted reproductive potential, enabled Abraham to live in hope of a son. He was a man who lived in the given promise of God.
His faith formed the fertile ground into which God planted His covenant, promise of fatherhood of many nations through a son, reconciled to God. This covenant fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, secured for us, here, now.
Our culture has changed as a result of the pandemic. The way we do things now is different. Many new voices, many new ideas, new distractions. We are itinerant in new territory. How might we be listening out for God’s voice in these new times? And when He speaks, will he be met with trusting faith on our part? Faith which forms the ground in which the covenant of grace can work in mercy, goodness, hope and love?
Lord, might we believe that with you all things are possible?
Might we believe that your covenant of grace
Outspeaks all the competing voices of our times?
Might we believe that when all is said and done,
Counted in, reviewed, achieved, concluded,
We will find that mercy and goodness
Have followed us all these days,
And that faith, hope and love endure?
Lord, we believe.
In these days, help our unbelief.
Lent Legacy 2021 Action
Believe a promise God made to us. Fix it with a sign. It could be a stone, a gift you give yourself, or a gift you give to another.