Devotions for the week of: February 26, 2020
The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.
But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.”
So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow.
Hagar has several strikes against her: she is a woman, an Egyptian, and a slave. Powerless to object, her womb is used to produce a son for Abraham. Even pregnant, Hagar is oppressed and degraded. She runs away. God’s response? Go back and submit to her cruel mistress. Yet God also makes promises. Her son will have descendants beyond counting and he will never be oppressed.
So Hagar returns, bears her son and continues to live in slavery. Finally, she and Ishmael are freed! Yet they are forced into the wilderness with few provisions and soon dying of thirst. Hagar walks away from Ishmael so she won’t have to watch her child die. God hears Ishmael’s cries. An angel again proclaims God will make a great nation of her son. Then God opens Hagar’s eyes to a nearby well. Her child is saved! God remains with Ishmael and keeps the promises made to Hagar.
As we look back on the ordination anniversaries of women, women of color, and LGBTQIA+ individuals; the story Hagar reminds us that God has compassion for the oppressed and degraded. God’s promises were not just for the chosen son, Isaac, but also his older brother, Ishmael. God’s love and bounty casts a net far beyond our human understanding or desire. Just as Sarah didn’t control God’s love for Ishmael, we do not control who God’s Spirit calls to lead God’s people.
Our privilege in our current times must temper our temptation to behave like Sarah. Even though she experienced oppression herself, she did not hesitate to exploit Hagar, her slave, and finally insist that Abraham cast them out into certain death in the wilderness. Let us be open to those God is calling today and tomorrow to share the Gospel with the world.
Pastor LeShea Avery
Our Savior Lutheran, Faulkton
Generous and loving God, we thank you for the privilege of serving you and your people. Lead us to be supportive and caring of those who come after us, especially those who are different from us. Amen.
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