Genesis 22: 1-2,9a,10-13, 15-18 – Romans 8: 31b-34 – Mark 9: 2-10
During the Season of Lent this year we will recall a series of covenants that God established between God and mankind as they are recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible. Last week we heard about Noah and the rainbow which was the sign of the covenant God confirmed with him. This week it is Abraham who is held before us.
Although Abraham was promised that he would have innumerable descendants now he was called upon to sacrifice he only son by Sarah his wife. In what was a tragic demand that was made on him, Abraham maintained his trust in God. Abraham placed his hope for the fulfillment of the promise made to him in God. The result of Abraham’s hope and trust in God was a new covenant established with God. As the covenant with Noah had brought about a new beginning of creation, so the covenant with Abraham was the beginning of a new people, a people who would be in a close relationship with God. Abraham’s’ hope and trust were thus rewarded.
Hope is also a them found in the other passages from Scripture that we heard today. Paul tells the Christians at Rome and us that if God is with us, and we are with God, we have made the right choice in our lives There is no reason to be afraid. Nothing can defeat us. Nothing can overwhelm us. The account of the Transfiguration of Jesus as told to us by Mark was an event that was to give hope. It was an experience to be recalled by Peter, James and John when they faced the betrayal, the condemnation and the execution of Jesus on the cross. It was to give the hope when they were confronted with apparent defeat.
Hope is both basic and central to being a Christian. Today we have recalled Abraham, listened to Paul, and heard of the Transfiguration of Jesus. This is to encourages us to look to ourselves, especially at times like these which so easily give rise to doubts and question, times that easily lead to pessimism and negativity. As believers in Jesus Christ, we must believe, firmly trust, firmly hope firmly that no matter what surrounds us God and God’s plan to be known and to be revealed will succeed. What could be more tragic than for man to be called on to kill his son, yet Abraham maintained his hope. What could be a more contradictory sign than the cross, yet our faith declares that the cross is to be the instrument of our salvation and victory.
Negativism, pessimism, and despair have no place in the life of a true Christian. No matter the tragedy, the seeming defeat, the incurable suffering, our faith, our trust, our hope, based on the Resurrection, is to be firmly placed in God.
Lent is the time to considered more deeply what it means to renew what was a promised at our Baptism. It is a renewal not only of the content of what we believe, but also a renewal of our commitment to living that faith. We do this despite all that we experience in life as individuals and as a society. We do this despite all that we might see around us. We do this despite how much in our world has been affected by the pandemic. We do this because our faith, our trust, our hope is in a truly good and gracious god.