Serving Promises Unseen

Following is a sermon that I delivered on August 12, 2012 at Pocatello First United Methodist Church.

How many of you have been watching the Olympics?  Okay … I admit.  I get really excited when the United States does well, but what I find fascinating is how much I support the other athletes too.  Take a Bulgarian gymnast, Yourdan Youchev, 39 years old and at his sixth Olympics!  Who could help but root for the man, regardless of how he finished.  There was a diver who never expected to make the semi-finals. He was just happy to be there, thrilled to be a part of something bigger than himself, and the Olympics are filled with these stories.  Then, we, as we watch them from thousands of miles away, also become a part of this world wide experience.

In a way, this was what the audience of the book of Hebrews felt.  They were a part of a world changing movement, but … it wasn’t going as expected.  When Jesus ascended into heaven, they thought that he was going to return very soon. Paul in his earliest letters discourages people to marry because he thinks that the time would be so short (1 Cor 7:25-31).  But, there was a problem. The first generation of Christians were dying, and Jesus hadn’t returned yet. The author of Hebrews reminds them that our time is not God’s time.  He talks about their ancestors and how they were patient and had faith that God would fulfill his promises.

The word “faith” plays a prominent role in today’s Scripture passage. “By faith, Abraham obeyed … By faith, he lived … By faith, Sarah received …”

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