In God We Trust
So here’s the deal. You leave everything — your home, your country, your kin and your claim to your families possessions here — and you go to new country. Are you ready to go? Maybe you have a few questions, like where is the place you’re going, and what will you do when you get there? Don’t worry about where this new place is located, right now. God will show you in God’s good time. As for what you will do in this new land, well here’s the real special part. You will be God’s people, and God will be your God. What’s more, God promises that you will be blessed, and through the new family God will bless you with, the whole world will be blessed by God. So, you will go where God leads and God will bless you and make you great in whatever you do. It’s a promise. Are you ready to go and get packed?
That’s the deal that God sets before Abraham. It’s a deal with a lot of promise, but not a lot of detail, and I think that is the point. It’s an offer for Abraham, and his wife Sarah, to put their lives entirely into God’s hands. God calls them out of their old life and gives them the promise of a new life as God’s people. Abraham and Sarah believe God, and their lives are made over again for the sake of God and God’s promise. In the process, they discover the truth of what Jesus was talking about last week. They discover that human beings live by God’s Word, by God’s grace and by God’s love. They discover that it is this relationship of love and trust that is life in God’s kingdom and blessing enough for us.
I wonder what we find life-giving, life-sustaining in our world? What do we count on to give our lives purpose and meaning? For some of us it may be family. For others of us, we may have confidence in our connection to certain place — Edison or New Jersey — or to a certain people, ethnicity or tribe that give us an identity. Some look to their education, their skills, their jobs, the money and possessions that are theirs by virtue of their hard work. The pious among us count on their religious roots or traditions. All of these are good, and each has a certain power to help us survive and thrive in this world, but each also has the power of to trap us, to take us prisoner, to make us live to love and serve them, for their sake alone. All that we love and trust has the power to become our god.
So, God tells Abraham to leave everything behind and put his life, his future entirely into God’s hands. Abraham and Sarah’s journey is nothing less than their learning to fear, love and trust this God who speaks to them, who claims them, who makes a promise to them, above all else. From the moment they set their face towards God’s promise and leave their pasts behind, they start to learn a new a way of living by faith and in love with God.
Our baptism is just that kind of new birth. In baptism everything dies with Christ, so that we might be raised with Christ to new life, a life, as Jesus tells Nicodemus, that is born from above by the very grace and love of God. In holy baptism — and now in our daily return to baptism — God speaks to us, claims us as God’s own for the sake of God’s one and only Son, and promises to keep us, watch over us, love us, bless us with God’s presence, now and forever. The Christian life is a life of learning to letting go of all that seems sure and eternal and life-giving for the sake of holding on to the one promise that will not disappoint us: God’s continual, “I love you. I am here.”
What are you hoping for? What are you waiting for? What are counting on to make your future full and complete? It is all here for you, at this table table today. Here Jesus gives you his body and his blood so that you might be his own. He is the blessing. He is our treasure. He is our life and salvation and the vision of our future.
From time to time over the years, we have seen Christians upset at the prospect of removing the words, “In God We Trust,” from our money. It seems, however, fitting that we should attach this motto to such a powerful and visible sign of where it is so many of us look for all good things.
That motto, of course, is ours too, as God's baptized people. What’s different for us, however, is that by the grace of God, we say these words then come kneeling with empty hands. In God We Trust. Then we receive God’s promise in bread and wine. We eat and drink, and once more with empty hands we go out from here into the places where God will lead us this week — loved, claimed, blessed — and through us God promises that all will be blessed … in Jesus name. Amen.
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