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Our Hope is in the Lord: The God of Miracles


18 June 2023

Year A


Sermon By: Rev. Dr. Robin A. Reed+

Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7)

Psalm 116:1, 10-17

Romans 5:1-8

Matthew 9:35-10:8(9-23)


Sunday Cycle of Prayer

The Anglican Church of Australia

Holy Cross Church, Sanford

Church of the Holy Apostles, Satellite Beach


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.


This past week we were shocked... our beloved Brother in Christ, Fr. Stephen Braddock, died unexpectedly at his home. I felt and perhaps you did too, as if I had been sucker punched not once but twice, losing Fr. Stephen, a priest who found his home here, inspired us with his talents and shared his gifts even through his own suffering and also losing Widget who charmed us with his doggy smile loved all of us with warm wags and greetings and inevitably found the Monk Cookie jar in my office!


I asked Why, God? Did Fr. Stephen die at such a young age? Why God? Is he no longer present among us? And why God? Why do we have to lose Fr. Stephen and Widget too? And then I got the phone call. God speaking through the heart and mind of Janet Severt, the Executive Director of New Horizon Service Dogs. “Pastor Robin I believe it would be best for Widget to stay right in Highlands county, continue his service at St. Francis of Assisi and carry on Fr. Stephen’s work.


And the rest, as you know, is history. Widget is here amongst his St. Francis family with his new buddy, Bob, on this Father’s Day. In the midst of our grief and mourning the loss of Fr. Stephen God has provided a miracle and renewed our hope... hope empowers us to look beyond any situation and trust God will provide and keep God’s promises.


Now “Miracles are unusual or wonderful events caused by the power of God acting in the world and often through his servants to bring glory to God’s name.”[1] God’s miracles expand the possibilities we can ever imagine, draw us nearer to God and inspire us with hope to make choices to glorify God’s name. Just as God’s servant, Janet Severt, showed us in the here and now the story of Abraham and Sarah reminds us back then and there. God has a good plan, God is present and provides for us no matter where or how we are in our faith journey according to God’s will and for God’s glory. God will fulfill God’s plan with miracles of all shapes and sizes.....opening our eyes to new life each day, providing Widget to ease our grief and continue God’s mission, blowing a hurricane away from our homes. God’s vision, action, and power transcend both the laws of nature and our own limited view of God, our world and even ourselves in times of trouble and relative calm. God is our hope.


Is there anything too wonderful or too hard for God? (451)


Last week we heard the Lord (Gen. 12: 1-9) invite Abram (and Sarai too) to accept a new call, to leave their homeland and family, to become a great nation built upon their offspring blessed by the Lord, a blessing to all families on earth, 25 years later in this morning’s story Abram and Sarai are even more elderly and still childless. As their hope faded in God, they hoped in their own power and tried to make their own miracle come true. Sarai giving her handmaid Hagar to Abram, Hagar giving birth to Ishmael and the two women divided by Sarai’s envy and jealousy.


And when Abram and Sarai drifted away from their hope and trust in God’s plan and tried to take matters into their own hands they failed miserably. But the Lord remained faithful to the Lord’s promises and to Abram and Sarai offering a new covenant, giving them new names expecting all the men in their household to be circumcised to fulfill the covenant and promising again with hope a son would be born to them.


We hear in the first part of our lesson Abraham, sitting by his tent, in the heat of day, has an epiphany, he discovers, looking upward, three men, the Lord coming toward him. Did Abraham know that this was the Lord? We don’t really know at this point. BUT we see in Abraham’s response perhaps why the Lord chose Abraham to be the Father of all nations. For In spite of Abraham’s failures and drifting away from his trust and hope in the Lord lying in the past to Pharoah and King Abimelech to protect himself. Abraham, responds with radical hospitality, to these three men, offering these men a little bread and water and a place to rest, delivering the finest meal he could offer, the best calf reserved for the family’s celebration and enough cakes enough to feed a small army and engaging Sarah and himself in the process. Sarah, not a slave, made the cakes herself. Abraham worked hastily and then stood by like a servant to attend to his guests rather than taking the host’s seat.


I don’t know if the Lord was testing them but Abraham and Sarah certainly demonstrated their humility and generosity and faith by offering their best provisions and more importantly their very selves to honor their guests. Abraham and Sarah did what they themselves could and desired to do as faithful people. But in the second section of our lesson we hear the Lord’s real test where was their hope when they felt hopeless?


Had, as the Apostle Paul wrote centuries later their suffering and barrenness produced more endurance and character, character which could instill hope, belief in God’s love and trust God’s promises would be fulfilled.

But we hear just as when the first time the Lord promised him he would father a son and Abraham fell on his face and laughed. Sarah overhearing the Lord speak from her tent also laughs, quietly to herself, can’t you just hear her saying - Fat chance I’ll have a son at my old age. Sarah in looking only at the laws of nature and what she herself could do had lost much of her hope, the odds were stacked heavily against them, elderly folks well past their childbearing years who had lost a sense of intimacy and connection. Sarah in her disbelief, is afraid, fearful perhaps to risk going forward for fear of being hurt and disappointed again.


Just like Sarah I suspect we all have crushing disappointments in our lives, waited for blessings that seem just out of reach, prayed faithfully, sought the Lord’s guidance, reached out in faith only to find that it appears God has not intervened to ease our suffering.


There is no miracle we can see or experience at that time. But God encourages us in the story of Abraham and Sarah to continue to hold onto hope that God will fulfill God’s promises in God’s way and time.


Probably 20 years ago I counselled with a family who had lost their 3 year old son, Trey, to a brain tumor, the couple had done everything right, sought out the best treatment at St. Jude Hospital. prayed with family and friends without ceasing and the young boy still died, there had been no miracle in their eyes. But in their grief they had the courage to realize God had never abandoned them or Trey. God was still speaking and walking with them, inviting them to grow through their grief and place their hope and trust in God to guide their future.


Over time, the father discerned the call and became an Episcopal priest, the mother felt God was calling them to adopt a young boy, David, who had a potentially fatal kidney tumor born the same day and year as Trey. And in their grief as they realized Trey’s death was not their fault and out of their control they found ways to draw closer to God, individually and as a couple to keep God as their hope and as their guide, they adopted David who did not replace Trey but brought joy and laughter alongside their sorrow. And due to God’s grace David miraculously has grown up to be a healthy young man.


God re-ignited their faith and their hope just as God did with Abraham and Sarah to let go of relying upon themselves, to let go and let God to stretch their hope to consider with God all things are possible and to do their part to re-kindle their intimate connection with each other and with God. And by the miracle of the Lord’s grace. Sarah in her old age conceives and has baby Isaac, which means Laughter in Hebrew, to continue the birth of the nation.


At times in a world in which we can bask in light, at the flip of a switch have boxes delivered in one to two days, log onto a computer and be halfway around the world. We can easily fall into the trap of wanting our own answers to our own prayers right now and when those prayers aren’t immediately answered it is easy to lose hope, become discouraged, and forget the Lord has a good plan and intervenes and provides miracles, small and large, to demonstrate the Lord’s power and to restore our hope.


If we, like Abraham and Sarah, and the seminary family are willing to believe God ‘s possibilities are unlimited, God’s plan is good encompassing all the world across all of time and God’s presence is with us always, even when we try to tune God out we can have the courage to open our hearts to one another and to God, risk taking a step forward and trust in God’s plan knowing from before time God is faithful, good, and works to instill hope in us all through the midst of whatever

has caused us suffering and risked our turning toward ourselves and away from God.


God often waits to save us because it is only when we accept only God can save us that God will send a miracle to those who believe...“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

[1] Samantha Lowe, Kids and Miracles, https://finds.life.church/do-miracles-happen/.


AMEN.






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