Invitation – The Call To Be Transformed
Sunday, August 16, 2015
St. Timothy’s United Methodist Church
Rev. Mark M. Norman Vickers
Genesis 12:1-9 New International Version (NIV)
The Call of Abram
12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.[a]
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”[b]
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring[c] I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.
There are certain people in life who make a “mark” no matter where they go! There are people who just exude the ability to work for good purposes, good intentions, and be used for very specific purposes in the life. Abraham was one of those people! Abraham is what you might call the “ultimate religious dude.” He is revered by Islam, Judaism, and Christianity alike! Not many people can say that! He is one who made a mark as used by God in many, many, fashions.
In the 12th Chapter of Genesis and the first 9 verses, we hear the “Call of Abram”. Literally the Judaic and Christian call to work for this Old Testament character. He is called to leave his home country and journey to a place that is not known to him! Nothing like being told by God that you are to leave your comfortable home setting and go to a place where you have never been. Oh, but there is more!! Not only was he asking him to leave the “comfortable recliner” position, but to journey to an unknown land and then, God was going to “make him into a great nation,” literally, “he was going to give him a boat load of people” to care for! Yet on the far side of this was the promise of a “blessing,” a “good” thing for Abram to encounter and work through, but not without difficulty.
You see, Abram was an ordinary fellow, 75 years old and married. So when the “call” came in, he took his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot, all the possessions and set our for Canaan. The scripture gives us the map of travel, not an easy walking journey for a 75 year old man, but he did what God commanded him to do, along with Sarai and Lot. They traveled first to Canaan and then to Bethel. Then finally to the Negev.
At the end of this text we leave off with Abram and Sarai trying to make the best of a bad situation. Maybe the hard work would pay off, they were promised an heir to the land, and yet they had to fight the wilderness and all its upheavals.
Now I may go out on a limb here and suggest that most likely, some of us, if not the majority of us in this room have had “life like” situations in which we could identify with Abram, Sarai, and Lot. We have all been in situations where we were called into an uncomfortable situation and were required to follow what God intended us to do. Most modern commentators suggest that Abram’s journey was not only a journey of a calling, but also a journey of faith! Faith in the promise that God/Yahweh was not going to let them down and falter in this journey. Why? because it was God’s journey, not theirs!
I believe that this text speaks of a faithful following by God’s people, but I also believe that it speaks about the profound desire to follow what God tells us to do!! That my friends is called “transformation.” Being changed into something that you are not at the present moment, into something that is different and exciting beyond anything that you could ever imagine. Abram did not desire when he woke up one morning to travel the distances that he did and set up the altar’s that he did in observance of Yahweh’s praise and adoration. Abram woke up to the “call of God changing his life!!” He woke up to the call of transformation in a world that desperately needed to be transformed or perish beyond belief.
Doing what God called him to do was a remarkable movement in the eyes of God’s transformative power in our lives. I wish we had several more weeks to explore the wandering adventures of Abram, but what is important this morning is to recognize that God not only called Abram to a new and different place, but that God calls us to a new and different place each and every day! We are called to invite people, whom like I said last week, made us uncomfortable but have to be invited. God has required us to be a responsive people making sure people are invited and cared for in the presence of God and God’s family!!
If we are like Abram and move throughout the “wilderness” under the auspices and guidance of God, then we do that because we are an obedient people. By Abrams’ obedience and faith he became an integral part of God’s plan to save the world. Just as we are, people who ultimately make mistakes, sin, argue with God, and would rather choose to have our own way, we make our strong push to be a faithful and reconciled people who often, more than not, have to battle through some of the same circumstances that Abram did. Going places we don’t want to go, doing things we don’t want to do, and doing those things with people we don’t want to do them with!! It is a full Abrahamic circle. Abram was a true blessing to the world! If it we're not for him as a follower and a leader chosen by God, where would be? It’s scary isn’t it? To think that God might call you to leave everything that you have worked so hard to secure? To think that God might call us to rid ourselves of the things of this world that have brought a sense of security? Yet God told Abram to go and He (God) would bless him. Abram, leave it all and watch me (God) bless you!!
We go back in our understanding and investigate what it takes to offer an invitation to someone—it takes faith!! Faith as a gathered group of believers who really do believe they can make a difference by inviting someone to join them on the journey. God will take us by the hand, or maybe by a swift kick in the rear, and take us to make the Kingdom grow, to make us grow, to stretch us, and shape us in the image of Godly, Christ-like people. It is an amazing and wonderful journey to take. Now it is a little scary at times, but it is a leap of faith when God calls us to pick up and follow God into that “great unknown”! God want’s us to step our of our comfort zone and move into the blessed life God promises.
Just think, if God can create a whole nation, a whole faith, a whole people, out of a probably “crusty” old cantankerous man, just imagine what God can do through you? Just imagine who God can entice you to invite into this wonderful place called church and into the wonderful Kingdom of God!!
My friends, we have an awesome opportunity to make this a stronger and greater church than it already is! When God speaks to you, listen with the utmost certainty, and respond with a claim to faith that will, if need be, start a nation!
We cannot do this without energy. Therefore, let us come to the table of our Lord and receive the energy of remembrance from the Divine. Come and feast at the Table of Our Lord in order to strengthen your faith and be encouraged to respond in faith. Come, Let Us Keep the Feast!!