Monday, 16 June 2008

From Hospitality of Abraham and Sarah to Hospitality of God

Sermon for Pentecost 5, Year A, August 15, 2008, preached at Belair.

One of the Sunday readings yesterday was Genesis 18:1ff relating the visit of three figures to Abraham and Sarah to announce that God's promise to them that they would become a great nation would begin with the birth of a child in the near future. The visitation by these three figures was quickly seen in the Christian tradition as a biblical prefigurement of the Trinity. But many people find this a long bow to draw. But maybe not.

The birth of Isaac is the beginning of the fulfilment of the promise that through Abraham and Sarah all the families of the world would be blessed. Abraham and Sarah offer hospitality to the three figures, and hear the announcement. Jesus is the ultimate fulfilment of this promise. In Jesus' life, death and resurrection we become children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus, able to cry out "Abba, Father", enjoying an intimacy of union with the Father through Christ and the Spirit. God makes us part of the household of God, to enjoy the love of Father and Son in the Spirit. Through the ultimate fulfillment of the promise to Abraham and Sarah, God makes real an eternal and unimaginably intimate hospitality.This is why thinking of the three figures as trinitarian is not far from the mark.

Perhaps this is part of the reason why some icons of the hospitality of Abraham and Sarah have shrunk to picturing just the three visitors.(Compare the icon above to Rublev's Trinity.) The hospitality of Abraham and Sarah has become the hospitality of God because the promise to them is ultimately fulfilled through our incorporation into Christ through the Spirit.

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