Second sunday in Lent -- we are a quarter of the way through this period of reflection and reorientation. How are you doing?
The text for this Sunday from the Jewish Scriptures comes from Genesis 17, YHWH's reiteration of His promise to Abram. Abram and Sarai have been waiting for a quarter century and have made at least two mistakes along this journey. So YHWH decides the time has come despite these less than faithful episodes and He is prepared with three new names. Abram will be called Abraham and Sarai will be called Sarah. He doesn't ask them to try on these new names to see if they like them. He just announces them.
The third new name? God's. Maybe because of their doubting, God here says his name is El Shaddai - God Almighty. Usually we think of a mighty god at the head of an army, or causing earthquakes, or striking people with plagues. Not here. Here, this mighty God is going to use His might to keep His promise and grant a child to an old man and a barren old woman. El Shaddai will demonstrate His might by being able to keep His promise.
Abraham is told he will be the father of nations, of kings, of decendants like the stars and the sand. In fact, YHWH uses the past tense - I have made you the father of a multitude. When YHWH says something, it's as good as done. There is no doubt because He is El Shaddai. Abraham is not the only one to receive a blessing this day. Sarah receives a similar blessing. From her will come princes and kings and nations. YHWH specifically mentions and blesses this old barren woman in the same language He has blessed Abraham. Sarah will be a full participant in this endeavor,
God is faithful. Would you like proof? Look in the mirror and what do you see? The fulfillment and ongoing fulfillment of that promise. You are the result of that promise -- you are one of those stars, one of those grains of sand. And what more, you are part of the blessing for the world. Carriers of news of the kingdom of God, dispensers of grace, lovers of all.
Not only are you the issue or result of the promise, but as a blessing for the world, you are that promise. During Lent is a good time to remember that and to put ourselves back on track. Give it a shot.