Advent Reading – The Patriarchs

Genesis 12

1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.[a]
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”[b]

4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring[c] I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.

9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

Reflection

Throughout the Biblical tradition the God of Israel and Jesus Christ is refered to as the ‘God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’.  These collectively are known as The Patriarchs – those original ‘Fathers of Faith’ from whom the great monotheistic religions are derived.

During Advent we remember the Patriarchs.  The story of Abraham is central to this tradition.  God calls him out from his home into another land and promises he will ‘a father to many’ even though both he and his wife Sarai are old and infertile.

God promised that ‘all people’ would be blessed through Abraham.  This promise was eventually fulfilled in Christ  two thousand year after it was given to Abraham.  As St Paul reflects in Galatians  ‘The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,”[i] meaning one person, who is Christ.’

Abraham waited.

He waited for a child (for which he became impatient and had a surrogate son, Ishmael,  through Hagar Sarai’s maid servant) which eventually came at the end of his years born to an infertile Sarah. 1 Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him“.  She named him Isaac, meaning laughter as she scoffed at the promise given to Abraham and then ate her words with tears of joy!

Abraham waited for the promised land.  This he did not see.

Abraham waited for the Christ.  This he did not see.

As the People of God we wait. We wait and remember the first advent – the incarnation of Christ.  We wait for the second advent – the coming of Christ again.

What promises are we waiting for and how can we remain faithful to God as we wait?  How is God changing and transforming us as we wait?  What are we learning about ourselves, one another and Christ as we wait?

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