If the font is too small for you to read you can adjust the size of your display on your browser
On a Windows computer:
On a Macintosh:
Saint John's Pulpit (June 7, Third Sunday after Pentecost) –
The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, "Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac." The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, "Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring." So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.
When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, "Do not let me look on the death of the child." And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, "What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him." Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.
God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
Father in this world
Happy Father’s Day! We know that it is a very special day to honor and recognize all fathers in the world. While all fathers are enjoying themselves with their family today, but one father in the text today does not seem to be happy. Who is he? Yes, Abraham! His life is tagged by one great name, a father of all nations. In spite of this honorable name, his family life was not peaceful ironically. Upon marrying Sarah, Abraham became a liar calling his wife his sister and earned lots of money cause of his wife's beauty in Egypt. Why? Sarah was so beautiful and was about to become a Queen of Egypt almost because the Pharaoh was mad about her. When God called Abraham and even after that moment, God reminded him of his becoming a father of all nations. But Sarah was not patient. She asked Abraham to meet her Egyptian slave-girl Hagar. After all, at his age 86, Abraham became a father of Ishmael through Hagar. 14 years later… Sarah finally gave a birth to Isaac when Abraham was 100 years old.
Abraham couldn't find comfort and peace at his home. Never… the relationship between Sarah and Hagar was like cats and dogs. There was a tension between two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Abraham was rich physically, but poor emotionally. He enjoyed a great ribeye 'steak' at his table, but he had to see a 'stack' of bitterness in his heart. Please look at these verses from Proverbs.
Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.
Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred. Proverbs 15:16-17 NIV
Don't you think that these verses tell exactly what Abraham feels? Here is a question for you. Why do you think that Abraham's family became troublesome? I would like to say this. His family did not focus on Father in Heaven, but focused on their father in the world only!
For Hagar… she was from Egypt. To give a birth to Abraham’s son in her life was like a mega millions jackpot. She must keep her position in Abraham’s home. For her son, Ishmael she had to endure everything from Sarah, her owner. Within few years, Hagar will take Sarah’s master bedroom!
So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Genesis 16:15 NIV
For Sarah… she was so nervous because she has no time. Ishmael is now a strong teenager. But her son Isaac just finished his mother’s milk now. Please look at Genesis 21:8 again.
The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. Genesis 21:8 NRSV
In ancient Israel, babies are assumed to finish feeding mother’s milk at the age of 3 or 4. 2 Maccabees 7:27b confirms this fact clearly:
"My son, have pity on me. I carried you nine months in my womb, and nursed you for three years, and have reared you and brought you up to this point in your life, and have taken care of you." 2 Maccabees 7:27b NRSV
Genesis 21:10 tells about Sarah’s serious concern clearly:
So she said to Abraham, "Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac." Genesis 21:10 NRSV
Who will be the patriarch after Abraham? It was her question. So Abraham was pushed by two women. Finally, he decided to support his wife, Sarah. Then Hagar and Ishmael had to leave Abraham's house.
Father in Heaven
The text today says that Hagar and Ishmael are in the wilderness. But for these two people, their real wilderness was the place without their father (or husband), Abraham. Thirsty, hunger, loneliness, cold weather at night, and uncertain future… under these circumstances, they finally found another Father in their life. It was God, our father in Heaven. When Ismael began to cry out, Abraham couldn't hear it. But God our Father heard his crying and protected him and his mother, Hagar as well.
And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, "What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is." Genesis 21:17
What an amazing moment! It was the moment when they realized that God is their true Father! For us, God is our true Father. Just as God heard the voice of Ishmael, and groaning from Hagar, He hears our voice, cry and sigh. Then God begins to take an action. In a certain point, we feel that we are in the wilderness now. In this pandemic, lots of people lost their fathers, mothers, children, jobs and hope. Like Ishmael, they are crying. Like Hagar, they are seeing their family with despair. However, please know that God hears us here and now. He is our God, our Lord and our true father. Amen.