For the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (05 July 2020), Rev. Geoff McKee concentrates again on a reading from Genesis. This time from the ‘big’ Chapter 24.
Abraham’s servant’s quest for a wife (Rebekah) for Abraham’s son, Isaac, is a prime example for us – an example of faithful living. Geoff discusses the characters of Isaac and Rebekah, as well as that of the unnamed servant. He also discusses what the story tells us about the nature of marriage and the significance of the phrase: ‘This thing comes from the Lord’.
Below, you will find the Scriptures, prayers, the audio sermon and a musical selection.
Genesis 24:34-38 (New International Version)
34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. 36 My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37 And my master made me swear an oath, and said, ‘You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, 38 but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.’
42 “When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. 43 See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,” 44 and if she says to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.’
45 “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’
46 “She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also.
47 “I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’
“She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milkah bore to him.’
“Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, 48 and I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. 49 Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”
58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?”
“I will go,” she said.
59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,
“Our sister, may you increase
to thousands upon thousands;
may your offspring possess
the cities of their enemies.”
61 Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.
62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate,[a] and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 64 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”
“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.
66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
10 Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention:
Forget your people and your father’s house.
11 Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
honor him, for he is your lord.
12 The city of Tyre will come with a gift,
people of wealth will seek your favor.
13 All glorious is the princess within her chamber;
her gown is interwoven with gold.
14 In embroidered garments she is led to the king;
her virgin companions follow her—
those brought to be with her.
15 Led in with joy and gladness,
they enter the palace of the king.
16 Your sons will take the place of your fathers;
you will make them princes throughout the land.
17 I will perpetuate your memory through all generations;
therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[b] a slave to the law of sin.
16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
The Father Revealed in the Son
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Be generous to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.
Lord God as the darkness recedes, open our eyes to the gift of this day; help us to trust you with all that it will hold. In the hours to come, as our plans are interrupted, tune our ears to the sound of your voice, our eyes to the movement of your Spirit, our hearts to the strength of your desire, that we might glimpse your hidden graces and be strengthened in your service, for we would be your instruments of peace.
Lord God, we marvel at the thought of a well-fitted yoke, a burden scaled to match our frames; we do not know how to rest in the promise of such labour. Some of us are weary from unceasing responsibility; others find no welcome in the marketplace. We confound your vision for our common life. Forgive our blind striving, our stifled concern, the judgments we cast on others. Make yourself known to us in the silence. Shape your children in the expanse of your love.
Author of life, you cast your glory all around us; you invade our sleep; you reveal yourself in ancient stories and the give-and-take of common life. By the power of your Spirit, come to us now, for you have called us to this moment. We pray in the name of Jesus—our hope, our confidence—and your beloved Son. Amen.
NOTE: The above audio is in mp3 format and is also downloadable, if you wish to listen at a time when you may not have a reliable internet connection. Other devices are available but, on a PC, for example, if you right-click on the 3 vertical dots at the right side of the audio player, the drop-down menu should offer the option to “Save as…”
Prayers of Intercession
God of life, we come to you from many places: some hearts overflow with joy and gratitude, others are barely hanging on to hope and faith. For some this is an ordinary day; for others, every step feels fragile. Holy One, meet us where we are and bind us to each other, that in the community of your love we might discover our wholeness.
We name before you now the concerns of our hearts. We especially remember those who are ill and alone. May they know your healing and peace.
Lord God of time, we ask your blessing on our work and our rest: in jobs that feed our souls and in jobs that do not satisfy, in volunteer service and routine daily tasks, in long hours of caregiving and in hours we do not know how to fill—come to us and show us how we might serve you.
We pray for those whose needs we know. We especially remember those who have lost their jobs. Those facing hardship through these times of crisis and challenge.
God of all creation, enlarge the circles of our concern. Teach us to care for brothers and sisters whose names we cannot say: those whose challenges are daunting, though their needs are like our own. Teach us to care for the earth on whose gifts we all depend. Holy God, we pray for your world as we call on the name of your Son Jesus Christ who taught us to pray…
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
NOTE: Prayers of Intercession reprinted by permission of Westminster John Knox Press from Feasting on the Word Worship Companion. Copyright 2014 (amended)
“By Faith” is written by Keith and Kirstyn Getty and Stuart Townend. The song speaks about the role of faith throughout history. To walk by faith and not by sight is sometimes a difficult challenge, but we can be inspired by Old Testament characters and the faith of the early church to trust in the Lord every day with loving faithfulness.