‘The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’ Genesis 12:1
Brothers and sisters, now-a-days most of us have Sat Navs in our cars. It’s a really clever device, and its job is really simple, to get you to where you’re meant to be. The voice speaks to you, and says things like ‘In 200m turn left’; ’At the next junction carry straight on’; and the final sentence ’You have arrived at your destination’. Now you can ignore the voice, you can turn it off, and choose to go your own way. But if you choose to listen to the voice it will —one way or another— get you to your destination. Our job —the job of the driver— is to listen to the voice, and respond in faith. Trust the voice, trust the sat-nav to get us where we need to go. Over the past few weeks we have been working our way through the Genesis story. We’ve read —if you like— the introduction to Genesis, which is also the introduction to the whole bible. We’ve heard how God out of love created the whole universe and gave humanity the job of ruling over the earth and, by listening to Him, they would flourish and so would the whole of creation. However, what we have seen again and again, is humanity not listening to God, and as a result things going from bad to worse.What is God going to do about this situation? Well, what God always does, which is to send a rescue operation. The whole world has not been listening, and are now in a right mess. God will speak again… but is anyone listening?
’The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’ Back in Genesis 1we heard God speak over a cold and barren world, and in speaking God brought about creation and a people called to listen to Him, and in listening to Him, find hope. And now in Genesis 12 once again—just as in creation— God speaks over a cold and barren world to call for people to listen to Him, and in listening to Him find hope. And what does God say to this barren couple, a couple without hope? Well, God makes huge and amazing promises. He says, verse 2:‘I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ To this barren couple, God promises, not just a family but a whole nation; not just a name but a great name; not just His protection like Cain received but His blessing like no one had ever received before! God speaks…God calls… but is anyone listening? We draw breath. We wait with trepidation. You may be nervous for England tonight, but we as readers are meant to be more nervous as we wait for Abram’s response. On Abram’s response the salvation of the whole world hangs. Is he listening?Verse 4: ‘So Abram went, as the Lord had told him’. Such a tiny sentence, but on that sentence the whole history of the world turned. Abram is listening! Abram chooses to heed the call, and in listening and responding in faith, Abram begins a journey —a geographical journey, yes— but even more importantly, a journey of faith. Abram —because of his faith— begins journeying to the promised land, both physically and spiritually, and it is that spiritual journey which we are all called to make. Abram is safe, but God says ‘Go’. Abram listens to God, steps out in faith, steps out of safety, denies the inner voice which must have been telling him to stay home, denies himself, and sets out to follow God. Like trusting a Sat Nav when we don’t know where we are going, so Abram trusts God to get him to where God calls Him to be. And because of that listening, because of that faith, the whole world now has the chance at redemption, a chance to begin again, a chance to find their way back to God. ‘Abram [listened and] went, as the Lord had told him’.
How does any of this impact us? Well, as we will come to know —if we don’t already— Abram is the Father of Faith, he is the father of the great nation of Israel, he is the key figure of the whole Old Testament, the story of the beginning of God’s great rescue operation. But however great Abram is, he is only a forerunner, for One greater than he would come to complete the rescue operation for once and for all. I’m talking, of course, about Jesus. For just as God called Abram to listen to Him, and to follow Him, God would once again, in Jesus speak and call this time to anyone and everyone, and what does He say? Mark 8:34: ‘Then [Jesus] called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ God once again calls, God once again speaks, asking people to follow Him, and this offer, this rescue is made to all who will listen to His words from one generation to the next… but is anyone listening? Like the Sat Nav guides our journeys as we drive in our cars, so God calls out to anyone who will listen in the pages of the Scriptures seeking to guide us through this life and on into the promise land, which is the kingdom go heaven. The question we should ask ourselves this is: ‘Am I listening?’ Are we listening, when we hear God’s voice in the Scriptures or in the quietness of our hearts asking us to step out of our comfort zone? Maybe to leave everything and move to a different country; or maybe to take care of the homeless at the bottom of your road; or maybe to share your faith with your unbelieving friend; or maybe to invite your spouse to church. Do we listen to that voice and trust Him —like we trust the Sat Nav— to get us to the right place? Or, do we find excuses to stay comfortable, ignore the voice and in the process stay barren in our faith? Let us put put aside the fear and the doubt, and under the guidance of God, as individuals and as a parish, step out in faith, take up our cross, and go to the distance land the heavenly kingdom where we will meet the God of Abram, and in Jesus be welcomed home. Amen. (from Fr. Mike).