Today we remember Annunciation, the appearing of the angel Gabriel to Mary, the mother of our Lord. Today we remember the Incarnation. A lifetime can be spent meditating on God becoming man and his identification with us. My morning readings included Hebrews 2.
“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (vs. 2 RSV)
Why suffering I pondered until I realized that in the Incarnation Jesus was perfectly identified with us and suffering has been the human condition since the Fall. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted and he able to help those who are being tempted. My own sufferings can never compare to his but they can be united to his. He bids us take up our cross and follow him. I can suffer with him every time I am tempted. Likewise I can be crucified with him every time I refuse to indulge feelings of irritation at another and own that the problem is not them but me. It’s not that the other person is irritating but that I am irritable. These are the micro sufferings and the daily dying we all must undergo. But thanks be to God we have One who took on flesh and walks with us through them.
In Genesis 17 Abram, the man of faith has been walking with God for twenty-four years. God had promised him a son and Abram believed God. Abram waited on God…and waited. Eventually, tired of waiting and pressured by his wife, Sarai, Abram took things into his own hands and tried to bring about God’s promise using the conventional wisdom of the day. The result was indeed a son, but a son of Abram’s own works, not the son of promise. So the wait went on.
Finally, at 99 years old, God appears to Abram. The appearance was unlooked for; Abram had not called upon God yet God reveals himself to Abram as “God Almighty” and this Almighty One can override the laws of nature. He can cause an 89 year old barren womb to conceive a child. He can keep an impossible promise. He also can make a requirement. His requirement? “Walk before me and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and multiply you greatly.” If God is to bring about his promises Abram must be His man, not walking in his own way so as to bring about God’s word by his own effort, but walking in God’s way by faith.
“Walk before me and be blameless.” Can you hear God speaking to you in these words? God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and gave him the covenant of circumcision. In the circumcision of the flesh God was looking for a circumcision of the heart. Abram means exalted father but Abraham means father of a multitude. The name change indicates a confirmation of God’s promise and with it, a new character, a deeper relationship with God. God himself will work to bring the promise about. Abram’s old nature will no longer be operative. It is cut away in circumcision just as our old nature is washed away in baptism and is no longer operative. In the new man by the power of the Holy Spirit we can walk before God and be blameless.
Lord God Almighty, fill my heart and mind with your thoughts today that I could walk before you and be blameless not allowing anything to hinder your fullness in my life to the glory of your name, amen.