June 18, 2015
Genesis 18:1-15 [21:1-7]
In this week’s alternative Old Testament lesson from Genesis we find Abraham sitting in his tent under the Oak Trees of Mamre, resting from the heat of the midday sun. We don’t know exactly why Abraham chose this spot but trees have a way of calling out to us, inviting us to sit down under their canopies that reach up into the sky, inviting us to rest upon the soil that covers roots that grow deep into the earth. Such trees are both ancient and contemporary, and as such they compel us to reflect and dream, to wonder and to put life into perspective. It’s not surprising that on this particular day, under a tree, God appears to Abraham in the guise of three strangers.
It’s always good to spend some time resting under a tree. And it is also important to invite others to join you! Abraham could have easily just watched these three strangers pass by, he could have waved at them and wished them luck on their journey, or he could have let them know in no uncertain terms that this was his tree and that they were not welcome. Of course Abraham knows better, he knows that the shade of this tree is a gift from God not to be hoarded or protected but rather to be shared. So when Abraham sees these strangers traveling in the heat of the day, he jumps up to greet them, he invites them to rest under the graceful trees. He than informs Sarah that they have unexpected guests and she goes to work preparing a choice meal.
It is then, and perhaps only then, that a wonderful thing happens. The strangers inform Abraham and Sarah that soon, in due season, they will be blessed with a son. Sarah laughs upon overhearing the news, and I imagine that Abraham must have laughed too. Sarah who has been barren her whole life, and Abraham who is now 100 years old, will finally experience the promise of family and ancestors that God gave them so many years ago. And in due season, just as it was foretold, Sarah gave birth to a baby boy, and they named him Isaac, which means, “laughter.”
As the weather becomes warmer, as the season of summer begins in earnest, this week’s lesson compels us to find a tree and spend some time sitting under its canopy, resting upon its roots. And there in that holy place, in that place where ancient dreams and present realities connect, we are invited to consider the wonder of God and ponder anew the promises of God. All the while being watchful for strangers on the horizon, for the opportunity to practice hospitality, for a chance to invite someone out of the midday sun and into the peaceful easy graces of God. Because who knows, perhaps there is laughter to be shared, a hope filled word to be spoken, and great joy to be experienced?
May God find you sitting under a tree.
Give me a listening heart
A quiet place to pray
Open up my soul
That I might hear your voice this day
Spirit of wisdom
Pour yourself on me
That I might know your will
That I might be free
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