August 3, 2022 Pastor: Rev. Peter Mills
Proper 14/C [Pent. 9] Aug. 07, 2022: Genesis 15:1-6; Ps. 33:12-22; Hebrews 11:1-16; Luke 12:22-34.
And [Abram] believed the LORD, and [God] counted it to him as righteousness (v. 6).
By this singular sentence we have the Christian religion, salvation by faith alone — but “what kind” of faith? God called Abram at age seventy-five out of his homeland, Ur of the Chaldees, today’s southern Iraq. Ur was an advanced civilization. No doubt Abram’s family were wealthy and influential members of that community.
At God’s word, Abram packed up his family for a place known only by God. By today’s OT Reading, Abram had been on journey with the Lord twenty-four years through alien lands; God and Abram had history.
Bedouin Abram’s quarter century association was a time of faith-formation during which Abram measured the Lord; Abram toward God, and by Abram’s belief, the Lord “counting” him righteous. Faithful relations are two-way streets; by the power of God’s word Abram “counted” God as his “faithful God” whose word was a secure bond.
Abram, now 99-years old was promised that he and his barren septuagenarian wife would sexually conceive a child and heir from their bodies. By his faith-formation, Abram responded to the promise that in human terms was impossible, even laughable. “This kind of faith”, we call “hope”.
God promised Abram more than an heir; His promise would result in a new creation not unlike the first creation by His invisible Word. The promise was a resurrection out of two “good as dead” bodies. On “account” of belief, God “counted” Abram and his progeny as righteous.
God formalized his Covenant by the sacrament of Circumcision, bestowing on Abram a new name, co-ordinate with the promise, “Abraham” for seeking an heir and posterity in the promise. By faith he became “father of a multitude of nations” (Gen. 17:5, 6).
For those seeing the things of God’s invisible word by faith-eyes we are the fulfillment of Abraham’s seed and abundance. By faith in Christ, we inherit righteousness before God. In this ecclesia, we, seek what Abraham trusted, God’s presence providing his gifts, especially merciful forgiveness.
Through faith in Christ, God builds, out of sin scorched earth, a new City. Before his name change, Abraham might have returned to Ur, no longer “a wandering Aramean” in strange lands (Deut. 26:5). Had his family returned to the Chaldees, they would have regained earthly security and society; still Abraham continued his faith-journey to the promise of a “better homeland”, whose foundation is God himself (Heb. 11:15, 16). Today we, see as Abraham (Rev. 7:9), hearing God’s word and promises by Baptism: invisible things in the hope in Christ of full pardon.
Today’s Gospel follows-on the parable of the Rich Fool. We, like Abraham, take the measure of God’s promises in Christ against a homeland in this world; to coin a phrase, “What does the kingdom of God have to do with the city of Ur?”
Jesus chides a “faith” apart from God (Lk. 12:28c), secure in earthly possessions (Eccl. 2:24, 25). The Rich Fool of last Sunday’s parable found no higher security. He built new storage barns, a temple dominating “his” life; to idolatrously engage the creation rather than the Creator.
From the Fool’s perspective, rebuilding his barns made perfect sense; except that God had already located a “better homeland” ordaining his only begotten Son, new and eternal Temple for a new Jerusalem than barns for perishable fruit from a cursed earth.
Jesus chastised followers for love of money and possessions as foolishness, causing some to look back, rather than ahead to God’s ordained construction site, the cross. Jesus, made the point, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62).
Of God’s new City and Temple the author of Hebrews instructs, “By faith we perceive that the worlds have been outfitted by God’s spoken utterance, so that what is seen has come to be from things that are invisible” (Heb. 11:3). The church, is gathered into God’s “granary”; there He makes us one loaf in Christ crucified, the Foundation Stone of faith in the NT.
Like the old creation, God’s New Temple comes into our existence by proclamation of the invisible word, hidden under the first creation’s, water, bread, and wine. By faith in God’s invisible word, we with Abraham, are “counted” righteous by Christ’s perfect faith on the cross (cf. Mt. 5:48).
Having heard the preached word for “this kind of faith” in the church’s catholic confession, we believe we have been made fit for the kingdom of God. In “this kind of faith”, we await God’s City visual, already among us, through Christ’s sacrificial flesh. Amen.