Dec. 23

Good morning everyone!  We have one more day in our journey this year to Christmas! Tomorrow is Christmas Eve!

Today’s scripture: Genesis 17:15-22 (NRSV)

God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, “Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “O that Ishmael might live in your sight!”God said, “No, but your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.  As for Ishmael, I have heard you; I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.  But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year.”  And when he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.

Sometimes God can be utterly ridiculous. Sometimes there are those moments where laughter just bubbles up from inside of you. I picture this to be the case here.  God announces that Sarah will have a baby…ummm…anyone else get the memo that she will be a much older parent? It is so ridiculous that they both laugh. In fact, Isaac will be named for it.   What I love about this passage is this, the laughter plays into the transformative power of God.  Not only does this moment give laughter, it re names our characters.  When God’s ridiculousness comes into play, we are changed.  AND this passages highlights a deep connection to Ishmael, where another branch of faith is born….not cut off.  God will care for Ishmael and make his prosperous too.  We have a deep connection to a family line of Islam.
All in this little passage! Laughter playing into new plans that seem preposterous.  Transformative power of God changing something as primary as our own names.  And a connection to another branch of faith.  We are indeed connected.
And all of this plays deeply into Advent as we look at the story coming up tomorrow…which has deep roots in God telling a woman she is going to have a child that will change things.  PLUS the story for tomorrow is pretty preposterous in its own right…..a pregnant teenager and her fiance from a very poor town are going to have God in flesh….oh yeah, and it’s God’s baby….oh yeah, and she will give birth in the dirtiest (or most unclean) place possible…oh yeah, and the marginalized of society will be the first to visit…oh yeah, and they will be led by angels and stars….oh yeah, and then….get the picture?
This is ridiculous! And if you think about it too much…you may just giggle.
This story will change you.  It already has, hasn’t it?  And when it changes you, might catch yourself off guard.  I know that you are dealing with all sorts of things today.  Anxieties are high.  Expectations are even higher.  Perhaps you have a few more gifts to buy.  I certainly have to brave going to the grocery store to pick up a few things for Christmas dinner. I have a few more details to take care of before tomorrow (like writing my reflection for Christmas Eve services…don’t tell anyone…:)).  And I know that emotions are running high.  Tis the season that everything we have gone through this year is heightened in our mind.  We miss people so much more in the next couple days.  I know all of this….and, even in the midst of it, God is changing you.  And we have this crazy mixed up story that held all of those anxieties and is still ridiculous to the point of needing a good laugh.
I hope you do find those moments today.  I pray that God gives you a good belly laugh.  The kind that makes you tear up just a little. And makes your side hurt.  And gives you hope that there can be joy.  God gives us this gift of laughter in every culture, in every tradition. It connects us.  Find that laughter for a moment today and bask in it.

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