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  • Writer's pictureRev. Drew Stockstill

They Laughed

Monday, May 11, 2020

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

Morning Psalm – 18:16-19

16 From on high God reached down and grabbed me; he took me out of all that water. 17 God saved me from my powerful enemy, saved me from my foes, who were too much for me. 18 They came at me on the very day of my distress, but the Lord was my support. 19 He brought me out to wide-open spaces; he pulled me out safe because he is pleased with me.

Scripture Reflection: The Emergence of a People

Genesis 17:1-8; 15-17

17 When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Walk with me and be trustworthy. 2 I will make a covenant between us and I will give you many, many descendants.” 3 Abram fell on his face, and God said to him, 4 “But me, my covenant is with you; you will be the ancestor of many nations. 5 And because I have made you the ancestor of many nations, your name will no longer be Abram but Abraham. 6 I will make you very fertile. I will produce nations from you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will set up my covenant with you and your descendants after you in every generation as an enduring covenant. I will be your God and your descendants’ God after you. 8 I will give you and your descendants the land in which you are immigrants, the whole land of Canaan, as an enduring possession. And I will be their God.”
15 God said to Abraham, “As for your wife Sarai, you will no longer call her Sarai. Her name will now be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and even give you a son from her. I will bless her so that she will become nations, and kings of peoples will come from her.”
17 Abraham fell on his face and laughed. He said to himself, “Can a 100-year-old man become a father, or Sarah, a 90-year-old woman, have a child?”

There is a great deal of laughter in the Hebrew Bible. It feels good to laugh, especially in hard times, when as has been said, “laughter is the best medicine.” But laughter in the Old Testament, is much more often the kind that does not feel so good. There is fear of being laughed at, being mocked, made fun of, humiliated. That kind of laughter, we learned early on as children to fear nearly above all else. To make our parents laugh in delight, there are few things sweeter, but to be laughed at by our parents in embarrassment, is wounding. In the Old Testament, the laughter is often one-sided; someone is not in on the joke.

God’s promise of blessings is no joke, but both Abraham and Sarah laugh in the face of God’s promise of a baby in their 90’s; they laugh at the thought of numerous, powerful descendants. Abraham’s laughter here does not appear to be because of joy for the incredible news he’s just received but because of how truly incredible it is. He questions God. He laughs at God.

I wonder what blessings are on our horizons, that if God told us about them right now, we couldn’t help but laugh.

I wonder if 100 years ago, at Christ Lutheran Church, when thousands of all white members attended the church each week, and expansive church building projects were on the horizon, if God had appeared to the leaders of the church and said, “In one hundred years, of your descendants, fewer than 50 will worship here each week, and I will make of this church a vital Health Ministry, not for the sake of the church members or denomination, but for the sake of those in need. And there will belong to this family of faith people from Africa and Mexico and people of all types of diversity. And this place will be little known by the most influential and powerful people of Harrisburg, but will be a beacon of hope, a place of belonging, a source of healing, for tens of thousands of the broken, the forgotten, and the seeking.”

I feel confident those Christ Lutheran Church leaders would laugh at God. How could they help it, as truly inconceivable our modern church would be to them? Tell them it would be a woman who would lead the church as the pastor from the brink of closer, and she’d be followed by a Presbyterian from Georgia, and they’d be rolling on the floor. But it is just such a people as you and me and all of us, that have emerged, and now our laughter is delight, to be a family of faith and one who is blessed to be a blessing.

Abraham and Sarah laughed, and it came to pass all God said, and today we still tell their story, remembering the sounds of their laughter.

A song for your devotion: "We'll Make it Through."

Let us Pray:

Satisfy us with your love in the morning,

and we will live this day in joy and praise.

We praise you, God our creator, for your handiwork in shaping and sustaining your wondrous creation.

Especially we thank you for

the ministry of all the baptized . . .

those who provide for public safety and well-being . . . those with whom we work or share common concerns . . . opportunities to share good news with others . . .

the treasure stored in every human life. . .

People of God, for what else do we give thanks? Add your own prayers of thanksgiving.

We dare to pray for others, God our Savior,

claiming your love in Jesus Christ for the whole world, committing ourselves to care for others in his name.

Especially we pray for

the church in Asia and the Middle East . . .

those who seek to save the earth from destruction . . . those who work for the benefit of others . . .

those who cannot work today . . .

all who proclaim your saving love. . .

And for Dick Shepley and his family, Mary, Sharon and Tom Herrold, Duana, Larry, Jennifer Watkins, Brenda and Cliff, Bob, Rochelle, Karen and Steve, Barb and Butch, Sharron Blezard, Marcia, Rose, Phil and Alice, Stanley Hope, Jake, John, Julie, the nurses of our Medical Outreach Clinic and…

People of God, for what else do we pray? Add your own prayers.

As you cause the sun to rise, O God,

bring the light of Christ to dawn in our souls and dispel the shadows of hatred and fear.

Give us grace to reflect Christ’s glory; and let his love show in our deeds, his peace shine in our words,

and his healing in our touch,

that all may give him praise, now and forever. Amen.

God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit watch over us. Amen.

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