Friday, 5 August 2016

Brexit, God and Promises

So about Brexit – (I know you will be pleased to hear about this) The problem it seems to me was that promises were being made by both sides of the argument by people who could not be at all sure to deliver. The “exiters” promised to break off one of the three legs of the European Union which since the beginning have been the free movement of capital, goods and labour while the “stayers” promised to lead a reform of the seemingly so far irreformable. Neither is impossible, either might be desirable but each needs a lot of cooperation from many other people, notably those who live on the other sides of the English Channel (La Manche), the North Sea or for that matter the Irish Sea. So then all these promises were wrapped in a fog knitted of doubt.

Abram had spoken with God before – or rather God had spoken to him: “Leave your country, your people and go to the country I will show you; to your offspring I will give this land.” So Abram had gone and we find him now in this morning’s reading (Genesis 15:1-6) having successfully rescued his nephew Lot with from captivity, a man of reputation and wealth a man of lands and cattle. “Do not be afraid, Abram,” says the Lord in a dream, “I am your shield, your reward shall be very great.”

Abram though betrays his frustration: Lord I have very much already but I have not got what I really want. I want a child! I continue childless he cries and in that word continue we hear the ache that many will know – the hurt and experience of an unfulfilled longing for a child and we can relate easily and deeply to it. The yearning remains even though Abram and Sarai are getting on in years. But Abram has given up. Ancient documents from the second millennium before Christ discovered near the river Tigris explain that it was legally possible for a childless man to adopt one of his male servants to be heir and guardian of his estate. Abram’s mourning, anger and despair for his childlessness has given way to accepting and planning for that acceptance by dreaming of naming Elezier his servant as his inheritor.

Then the Lord in that memorable visual promise takes him out on a clear Middle Eastern night to count the stars.

And he believed the Lord.

It feels a bit weak that word believed for this is no trivial agreement, say with  Boris or David, rather Abram lays back in God’s arms and “believed and trusted” in him. Neither is it accidental that this trust is born from the word of God and the vision of his creation. It seems God is saying “See the stars that I have made  look at them closely and know therefore that I can supremely deliver on my promises.

“Do not be afraid little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” This is the New Testament promise, that there will be life everlasting after death in the kingdom of heaven and as we listen to the words of Genesis joining them with these from the teachings of Jesus towards the end of his earthly ministry, as we hear and absorb that great span of revelation be sure that this is the same God that Abram trusted and that we can trust also for he delivers his promises.