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Sermon and Liturgy For The Second Sunday in Lent - Year B
Genesis 17:1-10,15-19 and Romans 4:16-25
"And Abraham Laughed"


READING:  Genesis 17:1-10,15-19 and Romans 4:16-25 
SERMON :  "And Abraham Laughed"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-le02se 358000

   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.

   Sources, if any, are as indicated in the text.
     
	                                 
MUSICAL PRELUDE


WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP (from Proverbs 3:5-6)
L    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
     and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P    And also with you.
L    Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck,
     write them on the tablet of your heart.
P    Then you will win favour and a good name in the sight of God and man.
L    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own
     understanding.
P    In all your ways acknowledge God, and he will make straight your
     paths.


INTROIT: "O Love, How Deep" (verse 1 - VU 348)


PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Loving God, creator of our world, we pray to you this day that you would
give us eyes to see and ear to hear you.  Give us mouths to sing of your
love and lips to proclaim your praise.  And when we are done here, give us
hands to serve you in our world and feet to walk in your path all our days. 
Bless us, Lord, we pray, in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour, Amen.


ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS
- Announcements
- Birthdays and Anniversaries
- Sharing Joys and Concerns           


* HYMN: "Let Us With A Gladsome Mind"                              - VU 234


CHILDREN'S TIME:
Object:   Heirloom (Athabascan Crest)                                      
Theme:    Waiting In Hope
Source:   Based on "Children's Sermon Service Plus Vol 24. No 1"

Good morning -- has anyone ever promised to give you something or promised
to do something with you????  Did you ever have to wait a long time before
the promise came true?????  I want to show you something that my father
gave me (show and explain the crest).  My father promised this to me many
years ago - but I didn't get it till about five years ago.  I waited and
waited for it.

Who here has waited and waited for something that was promised - who has a
family heirloom????  What is it????  Who gave it????  How long did you
wait????

Today in the old testament reading we hear how this happened to a man
called Abraham.  He lived many years ago.  We call Abraham the Father of
our Faith.  We call him this because God made him a promise.  God promised
Abraham that he would have many children, many grandchildren and many-many
great-grandchildren.  Abraham was very old when God made him this promise
and he had no children at all.  Abraham had to wait a long long time as
well for the promise to come true.  He waited and waited - and while he
waited he believed it would happen - that God would keep his promise - and
He did.  From Abraham and his wife Sarah came an entire nation of people.

This week I want you to remember to have faith and trust in God.  God
promises that if we trust in him and his promises that he will help us get
through life with joy and peace in our hearts.  Sometimes we have to wait a
long time - but God's promises always come true.

     Let us pray -- Dear Lord God -- help us to have faith in you --
     help us believe in your promises -- and to wait patiently -- for
     them to come true.  We ask it in the name of Jesus -- Amen


* HYMN: "Jesus, Teacher and Friend"                               - SFGP 16


FIRST SCRIPTURE READING: Genesis 17:1-10, 15-19


PRAYER OF CONFESSION:
L    Loving God, 
     we confess that we often forget the promises that we have made.
P    We do not always do what we have said we would do. 
     We do things that are wrong instead of things that are right.
L    We confess that we neglect to care for our world and the people in it.
P    Just as we sometimes throw garbage in our streets 
     and use things that we do not need, 
     so we also throw insults at our neighbours
     and hate those who are different than us.
L    Lord, forgive us for all that we do wrong.
          ............... (silent prayer) ..............
P    Gracious God, we are sorry for the bad we have done.
L    Touch us and make us whole.  Amen


ASSURANCE OF GOD'S FORGIVENESS:
L    God knows our hearts.  He sees what we intend.  He knows that we want
     to be faithful to him.
P    God is like a good father or a good mother.  God is full of love and
     forgiveness for his children.
L    God sent his Son Jesus into the world to forgive our sins and to help
     us walk in his path.  Be glad and rejoice in his mercy.  Love him, his
     world, and all people.  Amen.


CHOIR


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 105:1-11 and Gloria Patri Sung 


SECOND SCRIPTURE READING: Romans 4:16-25                                   


FAVOURITE HYMN 


SERMON: "And Abraham Laughed"

     Bless, O Lord, the words of my lips and the meditations of our
     hearts that they be of profit to us and acceptable to you, our
     Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen

Some things are difficult to believe
  and some things we don't want to believe.

Some promises are hard to trust in,
  and some we wish had never been made.

Consider Abraham, 
     a man held out to us throughout the bible as a man of faith,
consider Abraham when he was ninety-nine years old, 
     and his wife Sarah - aged ninety;
and consider them hearing someone say to them:
     you will conceive, and you will bear a child,
     and through that child you will produce many descendants,
     kings and rulers will come from you,
     and the land that you now live in as strangers
     will belong to your descendants.

It seems a little ridiculous doesn't it?  Almost a joke.

Even when you know that that someone speaking to them is God, it doesn't
seem credible.  I mean you would have to be pretty naive wouldn't you to
accept that promise at face value?

Some things are difficult to believe.

Even Abraham laughed when he heard God promise him a child;
even he, the man held out to us as the greatest example of faith, doubted.

Our reading today said that even as Abraham heard the voice of God and fell
on his face before him, he laughed; he laughed and he said to himself
     "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?"
     "Will Sarah bear a child at the age ninety?"

Nooooooooo!  It's not really possible!  In fact it is ridiculous;
and so Abraham laughed,
     and a few days later, when finally Sarah heard this idea from the lips
     of the three angels,
she too laughed......
     "After I am worn out, and my husband is old, will I now have this
     pleasure!"
she whispers to herself.

How often are we like Abraham and Sarah?
How often do we laugh at what God has said to us? 
How often, despite our best intentions, do we doubt his promises?

I think it is very common.
I think we do it every time we pray to God for our daily bread,
but fail to pray for bread for those in Africa.

We do it every time we ask God to help us to forgive someone else,
     but fail to ask God to help bring peace to countries at war.

It is easy you see to trust God for the things that we have some control
over, but it is awfully hard to trust God for the things that we don't
control, for the things that we can't do anything to bring to pass
ourselves.

It is easy to trust God for things we think possible,
but hard to trust him for things we think impossible.

When we trust God for our daily bread, 
     in the back of our minds we already know how God will feed us,
     we know that if we go to work we will be able to bring home a cheque,
just as we know that if we ask God to help us forgive someone,
     that it will most likely come to pass if we call up that person and
     try to talk to them.

But food for Africa - we don't see how it is possible,
     just as the disciples couldn't see how it was possible to feed the
     five thousand with five loaves and two fish;
nor can we see how war might cease between the nations,
     just as many of the Pharisees could not see how it was possible for
     God to love sinners,
and so we do not ask God to do the impossible,
or if we do, we do not really expect God to do it,
     instead we look for God to do those things and to bless those things
     which already lie within our comprehension.

That's how it was with Abraham,
he trusted God,
and he did what he believed God wanted him to do,
     even when it was difficult to do so;
     even when he had to leave his own country and his own family.
And when Abraham saw he could do something to make the divine promises come
true, he did that as well.

That is how Ishmael came to be born: Ishmael - the fourteen year old
  child that is referred to in today's reading,
     the one that, after he finishes laughing, Abraham asks God to bless.

You see from the very beginning of Abraham's faith journey he believed that
God was going to give him a son,
     and through that child's children and their children and their
     children in turn, that God was going to bless the world, and that he
     was going to make the name of Abraham great.

From the very beginning of his journey Abraham believed in the promises of
God, and he trusted God for - almost everything -
     but after a few years had gone by and he still didn't have a child,
     and Sarah was getting old, and willing to let him sleep with another
     woman so that a child could  be born to him,
well, he kind of figured that maybe this was the way that God meant to
     bring the promise to pass - and so he slept with Hagar and so Ishmael
     was born; 
     and even as Abraham asked, Ishmael was blessed, but not in the way that the
     impossible child, the child to be called Isaac, would blessed.

Abraham was a man of faith.

As the Scriptures say, he is father of all those who have faith today,
     the spiritual ancestor of all those who not only wish to see the
     promises of God come true, but who are also willing to work to make
     them come true.

Abraham was a man of faith, indeed in the bible he is THE MAN of faith;
 
But for all that, Abraham, like so many of us,
trusted God more easily when he could see how God was going to do 
what God has promised to do.

That is not a crime.
Nor is it a mortal sin. 
It is simply how it is.

Although they lived four thousand years ago, Abraham and Sarah were like
us, and we as people of faith, are like them.

Like them, we believe in God,
     and like them we tend to laugh at the idea that God will do anything
     out of the ordinary;
like them we tend to rely on our own understanding of how things work,
rather than on the wisdom of God.

Like them we sincerely endeavour to trust in God,
 and like them we all too often leave God out of our equations
  because we do not see how God can make a difference to them.

And Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself:
     "Will a child be born to a man a hundred years old?
            Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?"

How are those questions different than the ones we so often ask?
How are they different than the statements we so often make?

I couldn't possibly teach Sunday School - I am too shy.
I can't do that - I'm not strong enough,
I'm not wise enough,
I'm not good enough.
I don't have enough money.

Where is God in our equations when we say:
     It won't work - we tried it before,
     no one cares,
     overnment policy will not permit it,
     the rules cannot be changed.

Some things are difficult to believe,
  and some promises are hard to trust in,
    even if you already believe in much of what God has said,
      and already trust in many other promises that He has made.

The marvellous thing about Abraham and Sarah,
  is that even though they left God out of their equation when they
   laughed and said to themselves that it was impossible to have a child
    at that late stage in their lives,
           even though a significant part of them doubted God,
            when push came to shove,
a larger part of them trusted in God's promises and believed that
God had the power to do in them what he had promised to do.

As Paul writes,

     Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed.  Without weakening in
     his faith he faced the fact that he was as good as dead - since
     he was about a hundred years old -and that Sarah's womb was also
     dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the
     promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory
     to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he
     had promised.... And so he became the father of many nations and
     he was considered by God to be righteous.

Some things are hard to believe,
and some promises are hard to trust in,
but if we trust God anyway,
     if we believe in his promises to us despite their fantastic nature,
then even if part of us laughs,
and part of us doubts,
we will be what God meant us to be,
and God's blessings will abide with us as they did with Abraham and Sarah.

In Christ God has promised us so much;
  He holds before us not just forgiveness of our sins,
    and life everlasting,
      but he offers as well a full and rich life here and now,
        a life where, if he wills it,
we can do what we think is impossible for us to do, and where our brothers
and sisters can be what we thought they could never be.

People of faith,
remember that God is in the equation,
that he loves you, and he loves this world, and wants the best for it.

Against all hope, in hope believe,
Trust God to do what he has said he will do,
Put God into all the impossible situations in your lives,
and God's power will be set lose in you,
and the laughter of doubt will be turned into the laughter of joy.


PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING, INTERCESSION AND PETITION


* HYMN: To Abraham and Sarah -- SFGP #123 


MINUTE FOR MISSION


SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of
Dedication

     Giving and forgiving God, accept and bless the offering we now
     hold before you.  Accept and bless too the intentions of hearts. 
     Help us to keep our promises to love and serve your people and
     your world; we ask it in Jesus' name.  AMEN


* HYMN: "Take Up Your Cross"                                       - VU 561


* COMMISSIONING (unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit, we now go forth
     into the world - to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the Body
     of Christ.


* BENEDICTION


* THREE FOLD AMEN & CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"            - VU 964

			 
copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks 1991 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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