by Revd. S. Balasundaram, Mission Secretary of the Church of Ceylon, Diocese of Colombo
NOTES ON THE READINGS
Genesis 21: 1-7
The Lord dealt with Sarah as he said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised.
Sarah had borne the burden of childlessness for many years, a heavy burden in that culture and at that time. People must have smiled when they heard that her husband’s name was Abraham, meaning “father of a multitude.” He was the father of one son, Ishmael, but that was far from a multitude. As for Sarah herself, she had never given birth. No words can express her feelings of frustration, hopelessness, and helplessness. Only another childless woman can know what she went through all those years. But now all her reproach was ended, and they were rejoicing and laughing at the arrival of their son.
The birth of Isaac involved much more than parental joy. His birth meant the fulfilment of God’s promise. In Scripture it is recorded that God comforted Abraham and Sarah eight times with the promise of a son.
a) Promising GOD
Psalm 100: 5
For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations
A Psalm of Praise; or rather of thanksgiving. This is the only psalm bearing this precise inscription. It is all ablaze with grateful adoration and has for this reason been a great favorite with the people of God, ever since it was written. “Let us sing the Old Hundredth” is one of the every-day expressions of the Christian church, and will be so while men, exist whose hearts are loyal to the Great King. Nothing can be more sublime this side heaven than the singing of this noble psalm by a vast congregation.
In this divine lyric we sing with gladness the creating power and goodness of the Lord, even as before with trembling we adored his holiness.
b) Faithful GOD
Romans 5: 8 –
But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
But God commends his love towards us
That is, he hath manifested it, which was before hid in his heart; he has given clear evidence of it, a full proof and demonstration of it; he has so confirmed it by this instance, that there is no room nor reason to doubt of it; he has illustrated and set it off with the greater lustre by this circumstance of it,
In that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
God’s elect were sinners in Adam, in whom they were naturally and federally, as all mankind were; hence polluted and guilty; and so they are in their own persons whilst unregenerate: they are dead in sin, and live in it, commit it, are slaves unto it, and are under the power and dominion of it; and many of them are the chief and vilest of sinners; and such they were considered when Christ died for them: but are not God’s people sinners after conversion? yes; but sin has not the dominion over them; their life is not a course of sinning, as before; and besides, they are openly justified and pardoned, as well as renewed, and sanctified, and live in newness of life; so that their characters now are taken, not from their worse, but better part. And that before conversion is particularly mentioned here, to illustrate the love of God to them, notwithstanding this their character and condition; and to show that the love of God to them was very early; it anteceded their conversion; it was before the death of Christ for them; yea, it was from everlasting: and also to express the freeness of it, and to make it appear, that it did not arise from any loveliness in them; or from any love in them to him; nor from any works of righteousness done by them, but from his own sovereign will and pleasure
c) Loving GOD
Matthew 9: 38
The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few
35-38 Jesus visited not only the great and wealthy cities, but the poor, obscure villages; and there he preached, there he healed. The souls of the meanest in the world are as precious to Christ, and should be so to us, as the souls of those who make the greatest figure. There were priests, Levites, and scribes, all over the land; but they were idol shepherds, Zec 11:17; therefore Christ had compassion on the people as sheep scattered, as men perishing for lack of knowledge. To this day vast multitudes are as sheep not having a shepherd, and we should have compassion and do all we can to help them. The multitudes desirous of spiritual instruction formed a plenteous harvest, needing many active labourers; but few deserved that character. Christ is the Lord of the harvest. Let us pray that many may be raised up and sent forth, who will labour in bringing souls to Christ. It is a sign that God is about to bestow some special mercy upon a people, when he stirs them up to pray for it. And commissions given to labourers in answer to prayer, are most likely to be successful
10: 1 Then Jesus summoned the twelve
d) Calling GOD
References to all four passages:
As we reflect on the readings, we can listen to the still small voice of God speaking to us through scripture verses on four characteristics of God. Amidst of COVID – 19, and other challenges those characteristics are depicts the progressive revelation of God. God’s creation is not only the Environment around us but everything in the World. Therefore whenever we reflect and work towards sustainability of God’s creation, we are called to think about the whole creation of God which is the Universe. Therefore let us reflect GOD’s promise, GOD’s faithfulness, GOD’s Love and GOD’s call to ensure sustainability of the creation.
- LINK TO THE WORLD: Link to a contemporary environmental / justice / sustainability issue.
We can admit the fact that it has a closer link with world we live today. Though people long for justice they often forgot that they are always unjust to the entire world. I am certain that from the time we wake up and till we go to bed, we are only worried about our survival and not at all worried about the creation/ the world/the place where live with all resources. Accumulation and Pollution are the two key words that can evaluate our day to day life.
- THINK ABOUT GOD’S CALL: A challenge, invitation or teaching point that moves people forward in how they understand their relationship with God, others, themselves, and the world.
Therefore as we see in the exodus story that God sees, hears, and feels the agony in world and certainly wanted people to come forward to heal the world, as he called MOSES.
In the Gospel passage, Jesus saw a need and intended God’s intervention and he immediately acted by summoning disciples to give tasks. In other words, Jesus Saw the need, felt it, intended God’s will, and acted by delegating the work to his disciples. This can be called as PRAXIS.
- RESPOND: ‘Take home message’)
- What is that preventing us to understand how great is our Lord GOD who wanted to see sustainability of this world through us?
- What/How do understand God’s promise, faithfulness, love and the great call in terms of sustainability of His creation?
- What is that enabling us to care God’s creation?
If you’ve ever doubted the power of just one person, this story might change your mind. Husband and wife Sri Bikkala Chikkayya and Saalumarada Thimmakka from southern India couldn’t have children, so they began to plant and care for trees instead. Now Thimmakka, who is around 105-years old, has planted approximately 300 trees. This effort gives the world a PROMISE, LOVE, FAITHFULNESS, AND CALL FOR SUSTAINABILITY OF GOD CREATION.
God of Life help us to understand your progressive revelation in our contexts as we are the stewards of your creation and enable us to know your promises, faithfulness, Love, and your Call! Amen
by Revd. S. Balasundaram, Church of Ceylon