We are returning to the Old Testament this morning to continue focusing on the life and journeys of Abraham and Sarah. This morning, we turn to Genesis chapter 18 verses one through fifteen to read about one of the miraculous pregnancies found in our scriptures. Join me in reading this special story….

Proclamation of the Scripture                        Genesis 18:1-15      

The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 

Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 

Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 

Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”

Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 

He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.

“There, in the tent,” he said.

Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 

Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 

So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 

Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

Here ends this reading of the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer: Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Message                   Sarah Laughed

            Today, we focus on the story of the original mother and father of our Judeo-Christian faith, Abraham and Sarah. A few weeks ago, we remembered Abraham’s covenant with God.  When Abraham agreed to exclusively follow God (and have his family follow God as well), God promised that Abraham’s descendants would fill the earth and Abraham’s descendants would receive preferential treatment from God. But, as we read in this morning’s snapshot from Abraham and Sarah’s life, Abraham and Sarah became very old without having descendants. When this story took place, Abraham was around 100 and Sarah was around 80 years old.

            A lot has changed with medical technology in the past 4000 years, but it is still unlikely, or perhaps impossible, for 80 year old women to become pregnant. As a 45 year old pregnant lady, I can attest that people in their mid-to-late 40s are unlikely to have a natural pregnancy. Sarah may have been my age times two. Eighty is far past a normal window of opportunity for pregnancy.

            So, when Sarah heard the words of the visitors, who told Abraham she would have a baby before they visited again a year later, she laughed. She thought the idea was absurd. Their words were ridiculous.  She thought they were making a joke.

            It wasn’t polite for Sarah to laugh, though. And, it was especially impolite for her to laugh at celestial visitors. I don’t know if Sarah could see Abraham’s guests….I don’t know if she understood who they were. But, when they arrived, Abraham seemed to immediately catch on that the guests were potentially supernatural in origin. Biblical scholars, and Abraham, believe the guests were God and two angelic followers of God.  Abraham made sure a feast was prepared to welcome his guests – he rolled out the red carpet to make sure they were comfortable and felt welcomed. Abraham knew they were not normal visitors – and he made sure he, his family and his servants would provide for all of their needs.

            Sarah essentially laughed at God. And, then, when God asked her why she laughed, she lied and said she didn’t laugh. God pointed out that nothing is impossible for God. These words were repeated to Mary when she was visited by the Angel Gabriel. He told her she would be having a miraculous pregnancy, despite her youth and virginity, and when Mary questioned how it was possible, the Angel reminded her that nothing is impossible for God.

            Sarah’s response is so human. Even four thousand years ago, people questioned how miracles worked. We now understand a little bit about how human biology works, and we struggle to accept when we are told things will happen in a manner that is impossible for human biology to accomplish. But, with God all things are possible, including breaking the laws that typically govern human biology. And, every once in a while, when we least expect them, miracles take place.

            In the midst of this interaction between Abraham, Sarah, the Angels and God, Abraham was steadfastly faithful.  Abraham had experienced previous visits and conversations with God. Abraham accepted and believed God’s promises were true. Abraham may have been a little shocked when he heard about Sarah’s pregnancy, but he accepted the truth of God’s statement. Abraham had faith that God will keep God’s promises.

            In all of the stories we read about Abraham, he is a role-model to encourage us to trust God. We are not necessarily expected to understand God. We can’t fathom the greatness of God or how God operates. But, despite our incapability of fully understanding how God works and what God does, we are called to be like Abraham and to put our trust in God.

            On this Father’s Day Sunday, we see Abraham as a role model for all fathers, a role model for all men, and a role model for all Christians. He listened to God’s directions about his life and followed through with fulfilling God’s commands. He trusted God even when God’s suggestions and plans seemed impossible. He had faith that God’ promises would be accomplished. Now the world is full of descendants of Abraham. He maybe didn’t live to see us all, but all of the people of the Good Book – Christians, Muslims, and Jews – trace our roots in the faith to Abraham and Sarah. He is our first human father, and he was the forefather of us all.

            Let us work to be like Abraham and Sarah – to trust, to persevere, to listen to God and to live out God’s teachings and plans for our lives.

            Amen.