Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”[a]
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak[b] of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, “To your offspring[c] I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and invoked the name of the Lord. 9 And Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb.
10 Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to reside there as an alien, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know well that you are a woman beautiful in appearance; 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account.” 14 When Abram entered Egypt the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 When the officials of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female slaves, female donkeys, and camels.
17 But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh called Abram, and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her, and be gone.” 20 And Pharaoh gave his men orders concerning him; and they set him on the way, with his wife and all that he had.
Sarai “You’re going to be …”
Imagine Sarai listening at the door of her camel hide tent in that Bedouin desert and hearing God’s words to Abram, “Go. You’re going to be an alien.” You’re going to be a stranger and a foreigner.” Sarai knew those words applied to her as well.
“Go Abram. Go Sarai. You’re both going to be aliens in a foreign land. Leave your father’s house. Leave your country. Leave safety. Leave security. Go Sarai. Go Abram.”
And with God’s “Go” comes God’s “Lo” as Jesus commanded his disciples in the Great Commission. “Go therefore… and Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the earth.” (Matthew 28:19-20 – KJV)
“Lo, Abram and Sarai, I will show you (the land).”
“Lo, I will make you a great nation.”
“Lo, I will bless you (for the whole world).”
“Lo, I will make your name great.”
“Lo, Sarai, you’re going to be a mother. Mother of a child. Mother of the nation … Israel.”]
To which Abraham laughs (17:17). Sarai too, laughs a hearty – Ho ho.(18:12)
Such a promise and prediction seemed outlandish. When one is 90 years old and barren as a rock, one can only laugh. Ho. Ho. But is it a laugh of disbelief? Is it a laugh of derision? Is it a laugh from pure shock? Nonetheless, God’s “Lo” prevails. Abram obeys God’s “Go.” Sarai too.
When Sarai and Abram’s son is actually born she names him, “He will laugh, He will rejoice” – Issac. (21:3)
When in 1970, women of the ALC heard “you’re going to be an ordained pastor of Word and Sacrament” many laughed. In disbelief? In joyous hope? In faith?
We studied scriptures, prayed and voted. I voted along with 559 other delegates at that amazing San Antonio Assembly for the ordination of women. 414 voted against. But we 560 prevailed by the grace of God. We applauded, praised God and oh, we laughed!
Pastor Arley Fadness
Retired ELCA Pastor, Sioux Falls and formerly Custer, SD
Thank you, God! While we don’t always understand your plan, even dubbing it as outlandish, we pray that you will give us the faith to follow. In gratitude for those who prayed and voted and laughed, we praise your holy name. Amen.