Ascension Lutheran Church

Calgary, AB

Ninth Sunday After Pentecost

Genesis 15:1-6

[1] After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” [2] But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” [3] And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” [4] But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” [5] He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” [6] And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Too often we think of belief as strictly an intellectual exercise—mentally assenting to ideas, something that is very personal and private, not necessarily known by anyone else unless we choose to speak of it. But that’s not actually how beliefs work. If we really believe something to be true, it will show up in how we live, in our words and deeds. Beliefs guide our choices and decisions.

Abram believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness, not because he simply agreed with God, but because he acted on that promise—he did what God asked him to do, he went where God directed him to go. Of course, Abram didn’t manage this perfectly by any stretch, but when he did falter and fail, he sought God’s forgiveness and got back to putting this faith into action.

The story is told of a high-wire artist who was traversing a huge canyon on a tight-rope. He went back and forth a few times with a pole for balance, then he pushed a wheel-barrow across on the rope. The gathered crowd was cheering wildly. They got louder when he asked if they believed he could push the wheel-barrow across with someone riding in it. However, there was silence when he asked for a volunteer from the crowd to make the trip across. If the crowd really believed the high-wire walker could push a person across the divide in a wheel-barrow there should have been no shortage of volunteers—their silence betrayed what they really believed.

May the Holy Spirit help us to truly believe the promises of God, to live our lives in such a way that God’s grace is made known to all (including ourselves) in our words and deeds.