St Stephen and the Holy Family

This weekend is Saturday the 26 December, the feast of St Stephen and Sunday the 27 December, the feast of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  

 

The Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir sing ‘My Lord Has Come’ by Will Todd. In what ways are you grateful for God entering into our world?               

 

One way that you might think of our prayer we had in the days leading up to Christmas is as a chance to experience a God who keeps his promises. Promises to King David, to establish a lasting dynasty for him. To the prophet Malachi, to test and purify people’s intentions. To Mary, to give her a son who will transform humanity’s relationship with God. All these promises and more are fulfilled by the events we celebrate at Christmas. And the promises continue in today’s reading, from the book of Genesis.  

 

Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3  

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’ But the word of the Lord came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’ He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness. The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him.  

 

Abram and Sarah have been longing for a son, and continue to hope even after their hopes seem impossible. Have you had, or do you have, a longing for something that seems unlikely, or even impossible? What keeps your hope alive in spite of disappointments?  

 

God promises Abram not just a son, but uncountable descendants. Throughout the Bible, God is pictured as unbelievably generous. What’s your own experience of this characteristic of our God?   Genesis records Abram’s mixed feelings. He trusts God, but he also questions him repeatedly. How do you strike a balance in your own relationship with God between trust and questioning?  

 

As you listen to the passage read again, notice how God regards Abram and Sarah.  

 

You might like, in these final moments of prayer, to thank God for some promise that he has made to you and kept.      

 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.