Sunday Dec. 8
Scripture: Genesis 12:1-3
When you turn in your Bible from Malachi 4:6, which ends the Old Testament, to Matthew 1:1, which begins the New Testament, you immediately encounter three names, two old and one new.
The new name, of course, is Jesus the Messiah, the central figure in the pages that follow (and in all of history). The old names are David and Abraham. Among other things this opening verse places Jesus squarely in the ongoing story of God’s people. That story, for Matthew, begins with Abraham.
When we meet him in Genesis 12, his name is Abram. It will later be changed to Abraham. God calls Abram to leave everything behind and go “to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). Go where? Well, God leaves that open-ended. Very open-ended. It’s as if God says, “I’ll show you where later on. For now, just go.”
There’s a word for this open-ended trust that Abraham has in God: fatih.
His faith, and God’s work through that faith, makes Abraham a towering figure in the Old Testament but also in the New Testament. His name comes up again and again in the Gospels, and both the Apostle Paul and the writer of Hebrews stand in awe of Abraham’s faith.
Please note, though, that Abraham’s faith is so much more than an idea or an opinion. This faith is a trust that involves every part of his life. In fact, it’s a trust that upends Abraham’s life.
The Bible scholar Ellen Davis has a wonderful book called Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering God in the Old Testament.In many ways the title of the book says it all. Faith means getting involved, pulled into the life of God and God’s people. This is a little bit scary, and it should be. The God who draws near in Advent wants nothing less than our whole lives.
Prayer: Almighty God, you called Abram to go even though he didn’t know where he was going. Give us that kind of faith so that we can give ourselves wholly for you. We repent of the ways in which we’ve made faith merely an opinion or a decorative piece of our lives rather than life itself. Thank you for this time of year in which we can make a new start. In Jesus name, Amen.