"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Abraham and Sarah
Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7 Commentary
by Rolf Jacobson
The assigned story for this week in the narrative lectionary might be termed the Old Testament version of the Christmas story.
Similar to the birth of Jesus, the story moves from announcement (or "annunciation") to consummation -- from promise to fulfillment. As Walter Brueggemann has commented, "In 21:1-18, we have the central fulfillment within the Abraham tradition. The birth of the child is the fulfillment of all the promises, the resolution of all the anguish."1
The point is to recognize in this story not just a story. Not just a good story. And not even just a good a story about God. Rather, the point is to recognize this story as characteristic of the nature of God.
The fulfillment scene in chapter 21 shows God in action. . . being God. Here we see God's very character being revealed in God's actions, as God keeps promises, turns darkness into light, changes mourning into dancing, transforms weeping into joy. Here we are afforded a glimpse of God's very heart -- as God transforms Sarah's mocking laughter of disbelief into a joyous laughter of faith.
Scenes from Previous Episodes
We join the story ...
| Bible Text
2019-20 Worship resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
Narrative Lectionary 002: Abraham and Sarah
September 18, 2011
Join Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Kathryn Schifferdecker, and Craig Koester for "I Love to Tell the Story," a weekly conversation on the narrative lectionary. This week's reading is Abraham and Sarah, Gen 18:1-15; 21:1-7.