Readings- Genesis 12:1-9; Psalm 33:1-12; Romans 4:13-25; Matthew 9:9-13,18-26
St. Paul writing to the gathered in Rome declares:
St. Paul is remembering the Abram of our first reading. At the age of 75 Abram is considered dead, leading a life without purpose. God offers him a renewed life–
in you all families of the earth shall be blessed… to your offspring I will give this land.
At this point, 75-year-old Abram and Sarai have no children. Yet here is God promising children and promising land! And Abram builds an altar to give thanks. At 75 Abram is given a new purpose and is given new life.
This theme of new purpose and new life continues in our reading from the Gospel according to St. Matthew. A tax collector is invited to follow Jesus to a dinner party where he will experience the love of God in this man Jesus. Tradition tells us that this tax collector is transformed into the author of this gospel. New purpose gives new life.
A woman suffering from unceasing hemorrhaging gets new life.
The daughter of a leader of a synagogue thought to be dead is touched by Jesus and is given a restart of her life.
These people are not unique in the stories of our faith, rather they have become the norm.
Yesterday we celebrated the life of Jim Rogers and how through the stages of his life, he redefined and rediscovered ways to serve and bless others until his body wore out at 93 years of age.
Most of us can no longer run marathons, and some of us never could, but there are always opportunities before us to serve and be a blessing to those around us. Again, think of the four in our readings today.
Abram – His father, Terah, was directed from the land of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan, but he got as far as Haran and settled there. Abram continued to Canaan as planned. He traveled with Sarai, and Lot, his nephew, and all their possessions to this new, unknown land.
Matthew – Matthew was at work, doing his job as a tax collector, and Jesus invited him to try something new, to join him at a dinner party to experience the love of God incarnate.
The hemorrhaging woman – She waded into a crowd and reached out to touch the fringe of Jesus’ cloak.
The father of the young girl thought to be dead – He was the leader of a synagogue and risked his reputation to invite this unusual rabbi to visit, seeking help to save her life.
Interesting that none of them retreated into quiet and solitude. Rather they all moved into the community, Abram with the family, Matthew with the entourage of Jesus, the woman into a swirling crowd, and the leader of the synagogue like-wise into the midst of the crowd with a request. It was in these gatherings each of them found a new purpose that gave them new life.
Sometimes it seems to me that we get so set in our ways, we get so comfortable, that perhaps we miss the invitation to a new purpose that would bring new life. Sometimes the cocoons we construct around ourselves inhibit our growth rather than foster growth. Sometimes we risk dying by staying put rather than entering the rough and tumble crowds of life.
The thin places of life where we may experience the more intense presence of God may be in new venues – like Abram in Canaan, like Matthew hanging out with new people, like the woman being adventuresome and grabbing, and like the father begging for the health of a loved one.
As the hymn declares, God is working his purpose out. Are we willing to step outside our comfort zone to discover how we can join in that work? Are we willing to ignore the laughter of others? God is working his purpose out, and in joining in, we will find our purpose and we will find new life, abundant life.