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God Will Provide
a sermon based on Genesis 22:1-14
by Rev. Randy Quinn

As most of you know by now, I preach from the Lectionary. The Lectionary is a cycle of readings for each Sunday of the year. There are Old Testament readings, a Psalm, a Gospel reading, and New Testament readings for each week on a three-year cycle.

Within the Lectionary, I have chosen as a discipline to stay with one particular reading for an entire season. During Easter, I read from the Gospels. Now I am reading from the Old Testament.

That discipline has served me well for almost ten years now. But I must confess that when I saw what that meant for today I almost wanted to change my mind.

There are several points at which we could enter the text today. We can try to see it from the perspective of Abraham. We can try to see it from the perspective of Isaac. We can try to see it from the perspective of God. We could even try to see it from the perspective of the person who is absent from the story: Sarah.

But I donít think it matters. The common emotion of all the characters in this story is fear. Abraham is scared. Isaac is scared. Sarah is scared. I might even venture to suggest that God is scared.

In one of the translations of this text I read this week, it suggests that Isaac and Abraham walked in silence. It says ďIsaac broke the silenceĒ when he asked his question. In my own mind, the silence is screaming out the emotion of fear.

Isaac is afraid because he doesnít know what is going to happen. And when he asks his question, the answer is elusive. The uncertainty of the situation is frightening. I can almost hear his heart beating in fear.

Abraham, on the other hand, is afraid, too. Heís afraid because he thinks he knows how the story will unfold. He is afraid of the God who sent him and he is afraid of the punishment he will experience both for obeying and for not obeying. He is caught in a trap and sees no way out.

Sarah, is frightened, too, though we donít hear about her in the story. One tradition has it that Sarah died while Abraham and Isaac were on the way to Moriah. She was literally scared to death. How could she live without her son?

Isaacís name means laughter. And he had brought much laughter and joy into her life. How could she live without him? How could she live with her husband if he took Isaacís life?

In many ways, their stories are not unlike our stories today. I am not afraid to tell you that moving is frightening to me. We donít know what lies ahead of us. We donít know if the new church we are being sent to will be as accepting of us as you have been. We donít know if the people there will support my ideas as much as you have over the past seven years.

The uncertainty of the future is frightening.

And I know you are also afraid of what lies ahead. What will it be like to experience an interim pastor? What will it be like with a husband and wife pastoring team? What will it be like to share a pastor with another church?

The uncertainty of the future is frightening for all of us.

And maybe more so as we begin to imagine what that future will look like. Like Abraham, we think we know what it will look like and we are afraid of what we see.

Like Sarah, we worry about each other. You will be here with a new, unknown pastor and I will be afraid for you. I will be in a new church and you will be afraid for me.

The answer to all of our fears, of course, is in the answer Abraham gives to Isaac. They are words he speaks without fully understanding. They are words he speaks from a perspective of faith. ďGod will provide.Ē

God will provide.

God will provide for you, and God will provide for me.

It may strike you as unbelievable, but I wonder if God isnít the one who is most scared Ė both in the story of Abraham and Isaac and in the story of the Allen Blanchard Church.

God is afraid that Abraham will find his own answer to the dilemma and not trust God. God is afraid Isaac will run away. God is afraid Abraham will not listen and look for the ram caught in the thickets.

And perhaps God is afraid for us, too. God is afraid you will not trust the new pastors to speak on Godís behalf. God is afraid you will not love Sharon or Matthew or Robyn. God is afraid that you will seek your own answer rather than trusting God to provide.

And I wonder if God is afraid for me. If God is afraid I wonít give the new church all I can give. If God is afraid the congregation there will not allow me to love them or lead them.

But . . . . I believe God will provide.

The task for us is to trust God to provide.

It's kind of like the story of my oak tree. It was an acorn that I picked up during a retreat in 1991. That fall I planted it. In the spring, I learned I was moving just as I began to see an oak seedling where I planted an acorn.

I transplanted that oak tree when I moved here. The first year we were here, it was mowed down. Later it was cut off by a weed-eater. But it has continued to grow.

Itís now a young tree that is too tall to transplant, so I will be leaving it.

This time, itís not the tree that is being transplanted. Itís me. Itís my family. We feel like we are being uprooted and taken from rich fertile soil where we have grown so much.

But even the uprooted and transplanted oak tree knows the truth. God will provide.

God will provide.

Thanks be to God. Amen.