Every fall as we follow the Narrative Lectionary in worship, we begin again in the Hebrew Scriptures hearing about God's faithfulness among the people of Israel. Last week we heard an account of creation and this week, we move into the story of Abraham.
"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.’ 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?’ And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’ 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.’ He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness."
Abraham's story begins as Abram in Genesis 12, when God called Abram saying, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land I will show you. I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:1-3).
How has God called you? When in your life has God asked you to change, to reorient or to repent and go in a new or difficult way? How have you been blessed even in the midst of difficulties?
In Genesis 17, God appeared to Abram again, saying "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" (Genesis 17:4-5). Abram means exalted ancestor while Abraham means ancestor of a multitude. Abram's name was changed to reflect the future that God intended for him. Jacob also experienced a name change in Genesis 32 when he wrestled with God and was told, "You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans and have prevailed" (Genesis 32:28). His name was changed from the one who supplants or overreaches to the one who wrestles with God.
How does your name reflect who you are? If your name were to be changed to reflect your experiences or God's promises to you, what would it be? What would it mean to have your name changed by God? How would that change your outlook?
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