Lectionary resources for worship, faith formation, and service
This is a passage for austere times. When things are thin on the ground, believe! Abram is going through that moment when everything seems against him and the future doesn’t look the way he might wish it to be, but then the stars come out and to pass away a few hours he begins to give them names. He’s still naming them.
It’s when we are at our thinnest and when things seem stacked against us, that it is time to believe again, and Abram does that. He trusts the future which is both a daring thing to do and a faithful thing to do, but “daring” and “faithing” is the same word just spelt different ways.
It is a big lesson for us today to take this time of austerity and live fully as the church, not its old bloated self but in its leaner, thinner self that has stripped away the excess we can’t afford any more, and hold on to a church much closer to the gospel values of loving God and neighbour. The rest, as Jesus says, is just commentary.
Abram takes this one step further, however, and instead of paying it lip services in some kind of gentleman’s agreement between God and him, he experiences a whole ritual that affirms and establishes the vision for all to see. This is the excessive bit, but it is a show of confidence, trust and faith in a man whose life has been thin, weary and ending.
Perhaps then, as faith communities, we ought to live confidently through our rituals, those signs and symbols that speak of the future now, that invite us to live into the future in austere times. Maybe not Abram’s blood and fire version but some ritual that speaks of a God who is as generous with the future in time of austerity as in times of extravagance. Any ideas what that might be for you: a festival? A community project?
Dare believe. It’s one of the things the church does best.