Sermons and Talks

Words to Live By – Honoring Abraham

This week is the festival of Eid al-Adha, the  “Festival of the Sacrifice”. It is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year. It honors the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God’s command. The same story is shared in our Christian Bible and in our Muslim brothers’ and sisters’ Quran. There are many similarities between these two Abrahamic faiths.

Abraham’s faith, as demonstrated when he obeyed the call to set out for a place not knowing where he was going, figured in last week’s Epistle reading from Hebrews 11. It states: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Rev. Claire said, “This one phrase sums up the whole of our life as Christians,” and pointed to the mystery of faith that goes against “seeing is believing”. But artists, those who fall in love, and even scientists attest to the fact that if you believe only what you see, you won’t see very much and you won’t believe very much.

Life would be difficult without faith: we have faith in others when we drive a car, we have faith in our doctors, we have faith that what we eat will not harm us. But faith in God is more difficult to explain.

“We explain it by the effect it has on us and others,” Rev. Claire said. “We have seen God at work. The examples in Hebrews – Abraham, Moses, Gideon and in our time Martin Luther King – these people showed that having true faith was far from being soft and cuddly. It is solid, scary, and inconvenient. It transforms us as soon as we embrace it. It is not something we achieve but is a gift of God. It may come by being aware of God in all things, by opening our minds and senses to the beyond as an artist does. It may come by knowing in our hearts that God is there. I encourage you to pray for that gift.”

Submitted by Patrick Gossage