Both Abraham and Joseph expressed natural but quite opposite reactions when faced with an unbelievable situation-the unexpected pregnancies of the women they loved. Joseph, as we read yesterday, was overcome with doubt and fear, but Abraham had a laughing fit on being told that Sarah would become a mother at age 90. Both shared the experience of witnessing a serious promise from God; that the children born to their wives would be agents of great change. The concept of a covenantal relationship with God clearly grabbed Abraham’s attention; he didn’t laugh again in God’s face. As his future son Isaac and numerous descendants learned from the ground up, a covenant is a permanent two-way agreement of mutual honour, respect and obedience.
Today, covenant-building has fallen on hard times. In a world that seems to run on disposable ethics and relationships, promises can be made and broken as easily as changing the ring tone on a smartphone. But God’s powerful and patient words to Abraham give us pause as we once again approach the mystery of Christ’s birth. No joke here, but serious and sublime joy.
Lord, thank you for your patience in the face of our disbelieving laughter and inner doubt; thank you for the gift of your covenant that carries us even when we aren't paying attention. Amen. — PF