June 14, 2020

Genesis 18:1-5; 21:1-7 “The Gift of Laughter” A humorous comment from George Burns: “The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.” This week’s story from Genesis is a turning point in the story of Abraham and Sarah. God has promised to make them ancestors “of a multitude of nations,” even though Sarah is childless and ninety years old. Abraham initially finds this unimaginable, even laughable – and in this week’s story, so does Sarah. The couple show hospitality to three strangers who stop by. The strangers are either angels with an important message for them, or perhaps even God in disguise, and Abraham seems to recognize this right away, and receives them warmly and takes very good care of them. After showing the strangers some extravagant hospitality, Abraham and Sarah stand by – and from inside the tent, Sarah overhears the visitors tell Abraham that she “shall have a son.” Sarah laughs to herself in disbelief – she’s ninety, after all! But not only does she eventually have a son, (she calls him, “Isaac” which actually means “laughter”) and she declares, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” The SALT Lectionary Commentary expresses what has happened here nicely: “By God’s graceful, astonishing gift, Sarah’s private laughter of disbelief is transformed into shared laughter of astonishment, joy, and delight.” Did you notice that there were two different … Read more »