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Lenten Devotion 3/1/12

Thursday, March 1st

Scripture: Hebrews 11:1-3, 13-19

11Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2Indeed, by faith* our ancestors received approval. 3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.*

13 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, 18of whom he had been told, ‘It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named after you.’ 19He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead—and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

 

Reflection: Living and Longing By Faith

At some point over the last several years, I started describing myself as being “serious about my faith.” I’m sure I heard someone else say it and thought it seemed like a good fit. Usually I use these words in response to a question posed to me that goes something like, “Andrew, how religious are you?” Not really liking to put “religion” front and center given people’s perceptions and overall bad rap the word can have, I tend to steer the conversation toward my personal faith and what it means. So things like overall belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection and following his example; trying to seek God through prayer, Bible study, and worship; being involved in acts of justice and mercy, and yes, going to church once, sometimes twice, each week. That all sounds pretty “serious,” right?

This passage from Hebrews made me take pause and reconsider. The very first line talks about faith as “being sure of what we hope for.” I for one don’t tend to think of the word “sure” as fitting very well with “hope.” When I hope for something, I want it to happen and know there’s at a least a chance, but sure I am not. Through the recounting of stories about our Biblical ancestors, Hebrews reminds us that people of faith, serious faith, not only believe for certain what God has promised but also long for that heavenly kingdom to reign over all the earth. Abraham was so sure of God’s plan that he reasoned his way into rationalizing why God was telling him to sacrifice his only son Isaac even though God had previously told Abraham that through Isaac he’d have descendants numbering the stars. Instead of Abraham thinking to himself that God’s ask made no sense at all, he instead assumed it’d mean that God would simply be bringing Isaac back from the dead. No big deal. Now that’s some sure thinking.

Lent is a time of repentance and practicing those spiritual disciplines that bring us closer to God. And, if I’m really going to be serious about my faith, it’s a time to renew that longing for the world of peace and justice that God has promised. It’s a time to claim as part of my faith the certainty that God WILL continue to bring this vision forth through the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Prayer:
Lord God, grant me the faith of my ancestors. Help me to identify the makings of your kingdom and welcome them, if only from a distance in this life. Thank you for claiming me, just like Abraham, as a part of your vision. May I trust your love and grace to lead me on this journey. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

By Andrew Schumacher

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