Hope beyond all human hope,
you promised descendants as numerous as the stars
to old Abraham and barren Sarah.
You promise light and salvation
in the midst of darkness and despair,
and promise redemption to a world that will not listen.
Gather us to yourself in tenderness,
open our ears to listen to your word,
and teach us to live faithfully
as people confident of the fulfillment of your promises.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Psalm 105:1-15 [16-41] 42
God’s covenant with Abraham
O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wonderful works.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually.
Remember the wonderful works he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered,
O offspring of his servant Abraham,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones.
He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
He is mindful of his covenant forever,
of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as your portion for an inheritance.”
When they were few in number,
of little account, and strangers in it,
wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
he allowed no one to oppress them;
he rebuked kings on their account,
saying, “Do not touch my anointed ones;
do my prophets no harm.”
[When he summoned famine against the land,
and broke every staff of bread,
he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
His feet were hurt with fetters,
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the Lord kept testing him.
The king sent and released him;
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
He made him lord of his house,
and ruler of all his possessions,
to instruct his officials at his pleasure,
and to teach his elders wisdom.
Then Israel came to Egypt;
Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.
And the Lord made his people very fruitful,
and made them stronger than their foes,
whose hearts he then turned to hate his people,
to deal craftily with his servants.
He sent his servant Moses,
and Aaron whom he had chosen.
They performed his signs among them,
and miracles in the land of Ham.
He sent darkness, and made the land dark;
they rebelled against his words.
He turned their waters into blood,
and caused their fish to die.
Their land swarmed with frogs,
even in the chambers of their kings.
He spoke, and there came swarms of flies,
and gnats throughout their country.
He gave them hail for rain,
and lightning that flashed through their land.
He struck their vines and fig trees,
and shattered the trees of their country.
He spoke, and the locusts came,
and young locusts without number;
they devoured all the vegetation in their land,
and ate up the fruit of their ground.
He struck down all the firstborn in their land,
the first issue of all their strength.
Then he brought Israel out with silver and gold,
and there was no one among their tribes who stumbled.
Egypt was glad when they departed,
for dread of them had fallen upon it.
He spread a cloud for a covering,
and fire to give light by night.
They asked, and he brought quails,
and gave them food from heaven in abundance.
He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed through the desert like a river.]
For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant.
Abraham’s descendants lament
The Lord said to Moses, “Go, leave this place, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, and go to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, or I would consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”
When the people heard these harsh words, they mourned, and no one put on ornaments. For the Lord had said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, and I will decide what to do to you.’” Therefore the Israelites stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.
The faith of Abraham
What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.”
Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised? We say, “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.” How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised.
Prayer reprinted from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers, © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts. Reproduced by permission.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress. Reproduced by permission. No further reproduction allowed without the written permission of Augsburg Fortress.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.