Let It Go

Let It Go

The Sign of the Covenant
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you and will make you exceedingly numerous.” Then Abram fell on his face, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her and also give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”

GenesIs 17:1-7, 15-16 (NRSVUE)

Friends, I wonder, do you ever feel stuck? Do you feel like you are on a constant treadmill going through the motions, but you don’t seem to be getting where you want to be? First of all, please know that that is often a result of being human. It has been happening to people for thousands of years, and it is absolutely normal. But does that mean that you need to stay there? Does that mean that you’ll be stuck forever? Well, that answer, my friends, is up to you!

If we look back to our scripture reading today, we heard a story about Abram and Sarai. They, too, were feeling stuck, weren’t they? Now, they lived more than four thousand years ago! So I guess we can’t blame this “stuckness,” on social media, the government, or even on society today. Usually when we feel stuck or we feel like things aren’t going our way, we like to point fingers. We like to name the reasons why things aren’t working for us, and we like to assign blame as to who or what is causing the problem. And I’ll give you a hint: the problem is seldom us!

I know that I have shared a similar story with you before, but because the group that I’m going to tell you about in just a moment is stuck on that treadmill, it happened again. I was at lunch with a group of area clergy a few weeks ago, and someone started referring to the “glory days.” You know, those days when everyone attended church on Sunday mornings, and our church pews and our offering plates were full? Sure, I remember that time as well, when Sundays were truly sabbath days, when stores were closed, the world slowed down. No one would have thought of scheduling a sports practice or competition, let alone a scout meeting or a community event. Families spent more time together, and our churches were prospering because of it.

Well, then that age-old response from years gone by surfaced. “We should write a letter to the school departments and the town rec leagues asking them not to schedule sports before noon on Sunday so that families can attend church together.” I suddenly felt as though we had stepped back in time. Yes, that was how the world worked at one point, and don’t get me wrong, it was wonderful, but times have changed. So it is time for us to let go of that model as we find new ways to reach out to our community.

Friends, I always find it interesting that as people of faith, we pray for help and deliverance, but what we really want is for everything to stay the same. We don’t want to change our lives or our actions; we simply somehow want the result to change. We want to eat the same and not exercise, and yet we want to lose weight. We want to make a million dollars, but we only want to work half days from home. We want all of our bills to be paid, while we’re on vacation. And we want to live in a beautiful house, but we want someone else to pay for it. We long for change to come from somewhere outside of ourselves when real change needs to come from inside. If we want to see and experience change in our lives and in our faith, we need to make changes in our lives and in our faith.

Now in today’s story, Abram and Sarai had wanted a child, and earlier in the book of Genesis, God had promised Abram that he would be the father of a great nation. Abram and Sarai had followed God’s instruction and left their home and traveled to a distant place, but they still had no children. Sarai was getting nervous because she and Abram weren’t getting any younger, so rather than being patient and trusting in God, Sarai took matters into her own hands and with Sarai’s insistence, Abram finally had a child with Hagar, Sarai’s Egyptian slave.

Do you think God had forgotten the covenant and promise that God made to Abram? I don’t think so. But Sarai was tired of waiting, wasn’t she? And I think that happens to a lot of us sometimes, doesn’t it? We get tired of waiting for something, and instead of having faith in God and waiting for the right time, we take matters into our own hands because we know what we want when we want it. Right? The problem is, being patient is hard sometimes, isn’t it? And trusting in God can be even more difficult, especially when we can’t see God’s face or hear God’s voice. So, we often take it upon ourselves to decide what to do next. The problem is, many times when we take matters into our own hands, we add more to our plate, we work harder, and we run faster. We think the more we pile on, the better the result will be, and we end up hurting ourselves and others when what we really needed to do was to let go of something first.

Sometimes, we need to let go of an expectation or a dream, or, sometimes, we need to let go of someone else’s expectations or dreams for us! Because when we cling to what has always been done before or what everyone else wants for us, we are never able to be who God created us to be or to do the things that God calls us to do. So friends, I wonder, what might you need to let go of and start doing differently so that you can be the best you? What might our church need to let go of and start doing differently so that it can better serve our community? And how might we encourage our young people to truly be the best that they can be, rather than trying to fit them into boxes of expectation that have been in place for generations? These are not easy questions, my friends. But sometimes, we start the work by letting go of the things that we cling to and the things that we think we need.

Abram and Sarai left their home and changed their names to release them from who they thought they had to be and to open up the endless possibilities that were all around them. This story reminds us that, sure, we have a history that has built a foundation under our feet and stories of faith to guide and encourage us. But it’s not our history and our past that guides us into the future; it’s God. And when we trust in God to guide us, we step out into the world, not to be exactly like those who came before us but to spread our wings, to try new things, and to flourish as we share the gifts that we have been given with the world.

Friends, too often the places that feel the safest and the most comfortable are the places that stifle our creativity and our imagination. I know change is hard, but when God calls us to move forward and to try new things, it’s up to us to let go of the old things that we cling to and step out into the unknown.

Sure, Abraham and Sarah hit stumbling blocks along the way, but in the end, when they put their faith and trust in God, and they weren’t afraid to “let go and let God.” as they say, a whole new world opened up to them. The possibilities were indeed endless, and though they needed to be patient at times and let go of the comfort of their home, their names, and their need to control, God guided them to something new, something more amazing, and something that would bless the world for generations and generations.

So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into your busy week ahead, what might you need to let go of to truly be who God has created and is calling you to be? And what might we, as a church, need to let go of to do the same? You see, when we let go of the old to make room for the new, we are invited to trust a future we cannot yet see, a future nonetheless that is held firmly in the hands of God. My friends, please know that the possibilities are endless, and the future is bright. We simply need to be patient as we trust in God, letting go of the things that weigh us down, and step forward into the future with new courage, strength, and vision.

My friends, may it be so. Thanks be to God, Amen.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *