Proper 11 • Genesis 18:1–10a (10b–14) • July 18, 2010

By John Loum

General approach to preparing your sermon
A. Start the process by praying about the subject or topic area
B. Select and clearly state to the audience the subject area that you plan to address.
C. At the point of your sermon delivery, start with an arousing statement or illustration in order to gain your audience’s attention.
D. For the body of the sermon there are several styles from which to choose: Topical or Textual with an illustration, application, and conclusion.

The untimely prediction
Childbearing is a miracle. Have you ever been in a labor/delivery room? I can imagine the wait—long or short, with its exciting anticipation of that miraculous bouncing baby. The miracle of a child is still God’s great wonder to our human mind. That promised wonder has truly been exemplified through Sarah as God’s covenant to Abraham and to us all as God’s everlasting promise.

The unthinkable is happening before our very eyes. God’s timing and purposes quite often perplexes our finite human mind. The thought of Sarah at that advanced age (Gn 17:17), speaks not only to impossibility but something laughable. God’s purpose though, is characterized by its specific time reference. In Genesis18:10, the Layman’s Parallel Bible places God’s return to Sarah during “spring time.” To be this specific is an indication that there is a promise which is not laughable but real and that the Lord would overcome the impediments for the sake of fulfilling his promise. Pessimism however is one of our greatest human problems. There is a human lack of trust which by itself undermines our faith and belief in God to the extent that miracles are either trivialized or easily dismissed. The miracle of childbirth or life itself is nothing but a miracle, taken as a simple mundane thing. After you go to bed at night you wake up the following day. In my mind that constitutes a miracle.

The birth of Isaac not only represents faith and trust, it provides a double challenge and acceptance of the human family. That is Jews, Christians, and Muslims need to acknowledge that we share the same planet and so must resist the temptation of either ignoring or refusing to dialogue with each other. There is a practical proclamation piece here. Just as father Abraham is an example of faith and righteousness, so all Christians are invited or challenged to build a bridge of communication between Muslims and Christians. Jesus’s birth in the Qur’an (Sura 3:45) is unique and significant. Perhaps when you and I engage them on the concept of faith it may very well lead them to the promise revealed in Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, in the covenant promise all of us, especially those who are in the house of faith, do claim our eternal inheritance in our Lord Jesus Christ. Just as spring brings new life, that miracle of new birth is the presence of our Lord in all who embrace his promise.

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