Monday, December 20, 2010

I Promise

I genuinely enjoy hearing kids tell wonderful tales and stories, then , to assert the truthfulness of their yarns, they can say, "I promise!" It's as if by tacking those two words on the end, whatever implausible creation preceded, suddenly it is a historical fact, indisputable forever.

"Mom, it's the best movie ever and you're gonna love taking me to it, I promise!" or "You really have to let me go to so-and-so's sleepover this weekend I already have my term paper done I promise!" or the always-popular "Jennifer's mom is gonna be there the whole time so it'll be fine I promise!" Not that I would demean the promises of children, but on the other hand...

Promises tend to mean more from the parents' point of view, in my opinion. Example: a baby is born and immediately seeks to nurse. The new mother cuddles the child to her breast and fulfills the first promise a human can understand-the meeting of the need to be fed.

God has kept promises in so many similar ways throughout God's ongoing narrative.

Abraham and Sarah lived through an incredibly dry spell, during which their promise from God seemed likely to have vanished into the desert dust where they pitched their tents. But finally, miraculously, God came through. Consider our scripture for today:

Genesis 21

The Birth of Isaac
1 Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 7 And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

Some of the most intimate moments in human experience revolve around the moments of promise. Making, keeping, sharing of promises, these are the times of such richness that we rejoice at being human. The moment of sharing the birth of a new baby into a welcoming family, or the moment of saying farewell as a beloved elder slips from the family's grasp and breathes their last breath on this earth-and everything in between. We cherish and hold dear every second of these times.

It is every one of these moments that promises us the shared experience of the divine, of the times which transcend the space and times shared on earth.

It seems that Sarah may have understood the limitless nature of our birthing and our dying-she who was on the dying end of her years, welcoming little Isaac, on the beginning end of his years. None can say exactly where we are on the dying end of the continuum of human existence, so we can't tell how close we might be to ending. But one thing that is apparent, and that is that Jesus coming once more at the beginning of his span of years should fill all our hearts with laughter and joy as we share the experience of the divine once again!

May all our hearts burst with Sarah's laughter!

Further readings:

1 Samuel 2:1-10

Genesis 21:1-21

Galatians 4:21-5:1

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