Genesis 12: 1-3
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.
The first 11 chapters of Genesis read like a divine-human reality show. It all begins with a couple beautiful creation stories and then unravels quickly. As much as God wanted the Garden of Eden to continue, humans seemed intent on creating a world of brokenness and hurt. It seems almost out of desperation, God choses to start all over again. The Great Flood comes and Noah is the main hero by being faithful to God and building an Ark. (The tragedy of this story removes it far from the children’s Bible story we often think of with cute giraffes looking out of the window of the ark. On this weekend of Hurricane Matthew, we can get a taste of the anguish in this passage. While the story is more imagery than accurate historical reporting, is does send a clear message. God is starting over.
It is important to know that God continues to work with less than perfect people. Abram was not perfect by any stretch of imagination. But God willingly not only selected him, he planned for a foundation that would launch a great people into the future. God was not only going to be the God of Abraham and his family. God was going to create a great nation that would last for so long and be so large that it would be impossible to count them all.
The promise or covenant with Abraham would change the future. It also changed the legacy of Abraham and Sarah. Their faith, their failings and the God who met them in both would be passed down the generations. Here in Genesis 12, the narrative moves from a discussion of just a few people and God; Here the mission becomes much larger and longer.
We are celebrating 175 years of the Methodist movement taking root in Clarkston. Today we stand on the heritage of those in Clarkston who accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and chose a spiritual heritage birthing out of the message and teaching of the Wesleyan movement. The key emphasis of this heritage is deep spiritual faith and active passion for mission and social justice. Another way to say this is to have radical love for Jesus and radical love for others in the name of Christ.
That is our heritage and calling. We give thanks for all the prayers they prayed and the faithfulness of their witness. Today we are building on that heritage and continuing shape it as we pass it on to others. Thanks be to God for this privilege.
During October, our conversation will be about the prayers we offer. As we reflect on out past, we give thanks for all the prayers lifted in this congregation that have given us the church we call our own.
Our prayers reflect our true belief. What prayers have you been praying lately? Are they for healing, forgiveness, for direction or expressing thankfulness?
Are your prayers mostly for others or yourself? Are you prayers addressing only what you can see or opening up possibilities for what God can see?
The prayers we offer matter. They can also serve as a barometer of our faith.
Here is a thought. For this week, keep a record of your prayers. When did you pray and what kind of prayer did you pray? At the end of the week, take a look. What you see will tell you a great deal about your faith, focus and perhaps next steps in your spiritual journey.