Love and wonder
Genesis 21: 8-21
8 The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. 10 So she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.’ 11 The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named after you. 13 As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.’ 14 So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, ‘Do not let me look on the death of the child.’ And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, ‘What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.’ 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.
20 God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
Her pregnancy started off with such promise, bearing a child to please her barren mistress. It didn’t take long for the good news to turn to bad news, then to wicked news and finally to tragedy!
“And God heard the voice of the boy;” (verse 17a)
“God was with the boy, and he grew up; (verse 20a)
Often, the journey we are called to make starts out so well, fill us with great hope and expectation and then it all goes wrong. It feels like we have been sent away into the wilderness with little chance of survival.
Mother Julian of Norwich reminds us that all we have to do is gaze upon God, for God is gazing upon us in love and wonder… God hears our voice, God is with us – what else is there?
“God loved us before he made us; and his love has never diminished and never shall.” (Mother Julian of Norwich)
Thanks be to God! Amen.