Genesis 18.1 – 15 & 21.1-7
Matthew 9.35 – 10.8
This morning we’ve heard stories and thoughts of people who’ve taken the most unlikely journeys and reached amazing destinations from very unpromising beginnings.
If you were God and wanted to choose someone to be the mother of many descendents who would be God’s chosen people, what sort of woman would you look for? Probably you wouldn’t start with Sarah: a woman well past the menopause who would have to be caring for teenagers from the age of about 103!
Sarah herself thinks it’s very unlikely: She laughs at the very idea. Sarah, whose husband has other wives who have borne him children and who has a child by a slave girl. She cannot believe that she too will have a child.
What sort of laugh was Sarah’s?
Bitter, disappointed laugh?
Angry – don’t taunt me?
Resigned – not this again – false hope
Yet God does fulfil his promise: Sarah does bear a son – Isaac and his son, Jacob, who’s name becomes Israel and from the children of Israel comes Jesus who opens way for us to be descendants of Abraham and Sarah as well.
An unlikely journey
Then there’s Paul who writes:
“God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us”
I’d edit that slightly: “Christ was born, lived and died for us”
“I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor powers, nor height,
nor depth nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
But look where that journey began:
This was Saul who was breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, going to Damascus to hunt disciples down and bring them bound to Jerusalem. An angry, driven man desperately fighting against God.
What happened? God met him in his anger and transformed him
If anyone had said to Saul, while he was still fuming, that he would one day be on the side of the Christians he would have laughed with scorn or sworn that could never happen.
But it did.
An unlikely journey.
And what about the first 12 disciples named by Matthew?
All getting on with their everyday lives, minding their own business, well into routine at work and at home. Perhaps comfortable with that, not wanting anything different; or perhaps a bit restless and discontented.
What none of them expected was to be pounced on by a charismatic, intelligent and persuasive rabbi and taken off on a journey into an unknown future whose only certainty was that this rabbi would be their leader travelling with them.
And what about our journeys?
In a sense a new one starts every day but sometimes there are unlikely, challenging, exciting, frightening or tragic journeys to be faced, often with unknown destinations.
We might be thrilled, joyful that at last the way ahead seems clear.
We might laugh at the idea of that journey – or weep bitterly.
We might scoff at the very idea but feel that persistent calling of God anyway.
We may feel angry, furious that our comfortable, predictable happy lives are threatened by change and disruption.
But there is some good news:
God comes out to find those who are lost, angry, afraid, devastated or lonely.
He comes out to find us where we are, as we are. And when he finds us he says:
“Let me into your life, let me sit beside you, I will show you the way and I will be with you always, for the whole journey”
And then he sends us out, like those first disciples, to be his search and rescue team to seek out those who are lonely, lost or in danger on their journey and to travel alongside them, offering to them the love we have been shown so generously and completely.