Canon Treasurer - The Reverend Canon Leanne Roberts
Have you ever taken a leap of faith? Have you ever had to do something, or trust someone, or rely entirely on what felt like your instinct?
If so, then you may well share the sympathy I felt towards Abram in this afternoon’s reading.
God says to him ‘Go!’
Just like that.
‘Go, leave everything and everyone – all those things that ties you to a place, all that history and tradition that makes you who you are. You don’t need it anymore. Go, and just trust that I will lead you in the right direction.’
True, God promises great rewards if Abram is obedient to this call, but nevertheless: it’s a big ask. Bigger than what many of us will ever be asked to give up, or leave behind, in our lives.
And then we read what is, to my mind, the most remarkable three words in the whole passage; we hear: ‘So Abram went.’
Such a small sentence, with such great significance. ‘So Abram went.’
And just like that, the whole course of history changes. It sounds so simple, so straightforward.
But I suspect there’s a great deal missed out in this account, between Abram hearing God’s call and him actually leaving. I bet there was a lot of soul-searching, questioning, praying, pleading, wrangling, wondering… I wonder what he told his wife, Sarai, and how she responded? Or his kindred, who he was just leaving behind? I wonder what they thought? What about the family tradition?
Bad enough that Abram and Sarai had no children to carry on the line, but to just up and leave his brothers? After they had been established in a place for so long? I suspect that phrase, ‘so Abram went’ sidesteps a great deal of real, messy, human cost involved in leaving.
Because, as I’m sure most of us here know, there is always a cost when we step forward in faith.
How could Abram possibly respond as he does? Our second reading makes me suspect that the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews had been mulling over the very same question. His conclusion is one of the most beautiful and memorable lines in the whole of Scripture; he writes: ‘Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’
Abram had faith that his hopes would be fulfilled according to God’s promises, and we can have faith in that hope too.
God is still calling. He is calling each of us here today. And this season of Lent is a good time to put some time aside and listen carefully to what God is asking of us. God is still calling.
We will always be able to come up with a good reason – more than one, I’m sure – why we have mistaken the call of God, or why this is not the right time to respond, or why we can’t possibly be the person God means to call.
There will always be other voices telling us we’ve probably got it wrong, or we should surely behave in a different way, or we shouldn’t take risks for the sake of God’s people.
But God is still calling, and he calls each of us here today:
to listen to his desire for us;
to risk stepping out in faith to change our lives and do his will;
to put aside our fear and pride and worldly priorities and serve God in faith and hope and trust.
As Abraham, as he became known, found out, the rewards of heeding God’s call are immense: God assures him that he will be a blessing for others. This can be true of each of us, too.
Do we, like Christians down the ages, desire a ‘better country’, that is, the Kingdom of God?
Then we must help bring it about, here and now.
Are we, too, ‘seeking a homeland’, a place where everyone is welcome, where justice and peace abound, where poverty and abuse and despair no longer ravage our neighbours?
Then we must join together in hearing God’s call to us live with faith and conviction that, in God’s strength and love, we are sufficient to bring about the change so desperately needed in our world.
‘So Abram went.’ God is still calling. Will we go, too?