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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, March 13, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Genesis 18:1–15

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.” (NRSV)

As someone who thrives on making lists and filling out my calendar with as much detail as I can, having surprise visitors would completely throw off my groove. Instead, Abraham, Sarah, and their servant respond graciously by extending generous hospitality, hastening to offer water to wash up, a place to rest, and bread for nourishment.

However, the surprises of this scene only grow for Sarah when one of the guests says that they will return “in due season” and that Sarah will have a son. In the previous chapter of Genesis, the Lord told Abraham that Sarah would give birth to a son who will give rise to nations. Abraham laughed when he first heard it, and Sarah, overhearing it from the tent, has the same response.

I think Sarah and Abraham’s suspicion and disbelief show just how remarkable God is. As the guest points out, “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?” God is setting a precedent for all of the other times God will work in surprising and unexpected ways, from David defeating Goliath to God choosing a young unmarried girl to be the mother of the Messiah. Nothing is too wonderful for the Lord.

Dear God, as we continue on in this Lenten journey, strengthen our faith in you and open our minds to see how you can use us in surprising and unexpected ways. And grant us grace when we can’t hold back our laughter when you do use us in those ways. Amen.

Written by Katrina Buchanan, Editorial Assistant

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