Sunday, July 20, 2008

Recognizing God

One final post on my sermon text for today. And the question is, do we recognize God?

The text begins with Abraham -in order to escape the heat of the day, he’s pitched his tent under these enormous trees and there he is, lounging around… when GOD shows up. Let’s freeze the frame here for a moment. The LORD appeared to Abraham. This isn’t particularly uncommon. It’s the 4th time so far in the book of Genesis that this phrase is used. But, if we adjust our eyes, and read carefully, we might be surprised by what we see. There’s not some bright light or burning bush or ominous cloud – instead, as Abraham is relaxing in the shade there are “three men standing nearby.” This is an interesting situation. Our narrator has explained that the LORD appeared to Abraham. And yet when we look around, we see 3 men – none of whom seem to stand out from the other. It sure doesn’t seem like the LORD is here. In this first scene we come face to face with the ambiguity of God’s presence. Sometimes, encountering God isn’t all bells and whistles. It isn’t all flashing lights and sirens. In fact, sometimes we might not even recognize God, without someone else there to tell us – or without the benefit of hindsight.

Is it any different for us today? Sometimes we might recognize God – and sometimes it takes someone else to show us – or hindsight to reveal to us that we just experienced God. But just like Sarah's lack of faith not being a barrier to God, I think not recognizing a God-encounter right away, isn't necessarily a barrier either. We can gain a ton when we reflect on an encounter too. In hindsight, when do you think was the last time God showed up with you...

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