Vicar's Monthly Letter
Vicar's Letter - September
“No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.” Genesis 17.5
In our Old Testament readings over the past couple of months we have been following the epic story of God’s interaction with one particular family and how that interaction has shaped our understanding of God thousands of years later.
When Abraham and his wife Sarah felt called to leave their wealthy city lifestyle and wander through deserts and over mountains to follow God’s call, I am sure that they had no idea just how difficult their lives would become. They must have had an enormous amount of faith in an age where ‘gods’ were seen as localised, to trust that their God could be found wherever they went and in whatever circumstances they found themselves.
As we have discovered Abraham and Sarah were far from perfect and they often tried to make things happen themselves rather than simply trusting in God’s provision. It seems to have been Abraham’s act of faith in preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac that was the real turning point in his life but I suppose like most of us his faith grew and matured slowly.
If we fast forward a few generations (and a few weeks in the lectionary) it’s easy to look back and see where God was at work shaping and moulding this family into a nation who would worship the one God. God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the night sky and the grains of sand in the desert were starting to prove to be true, not just as his twelve great-grandsons formed the twelve tribes of Israel, but also in the nations founded by his many other descendants. To this day Judaism, Christianity and Islam all consider Abraham to be their patriarch and are known as the three Abrahamic religions.
As we try to live the life of faith ourselves, it’s really only when we look back that we notice where God was at work in our lives and we can see the bigger picture. Perhaps, when we’re in the moment, it’s enough to know that God is there alongside us and that we can trust in his providence.
With this in mind we continue to plan ahead for services that may or may not happen in some of our churches, for harvest thanksgiving, for remembrance and even carol services. We are, as we have discovered, limited by government advice, which can change very quickly. As I write face masks are now mandatory in church for congregations and singing is still banned, yes even in churchyards!
When we look back on this experience in perhaps a year or so, I’m sure we will see quite clearly where God was at work among us. But for now perhaps it’s enough to know that God is at work and that he is with us no matter what we are going through.