The Death of Sarah and What Respect Looks Like Genesis 22:20-23:20

November 2, 2014

Genesis 22:20-23:20

The Death of Sarah and What Respect Looks Like





Children’s Sermon: 

  • What did you dress up as for Halloween.  What did you enjoy about the celebration? 
  • Does anyone know what the word Halloween means?  It is actually three words condensed:  All Hallows Eve. 
  • What other day do we celebrate that ends with “Eve”?  Christmas Eve and that’s the day before ______.  So what day comes after All Hallows Eve? Hallow is another word for Holy.  All Hallows is a way to say all the holy ones or all the saints.  So that means that yesterday, Nov. 1st, was All Saints Day.
  • How did you celebrate? Hmm.  I think that the “eve” has become more important than the day itself!
  • Traditionally, on All Saints Day we remember all of the Christians who have died and gone to heaven.  We thank God for all about them that was good.  Today during the sermon we are going to have a brief time to remember.  Is there someone you want to thank God for today?



It’s been an eventful weekend. We had All Hallows Even on Friday, yesterday was All Saints Day, and today is All Souls Day.  Those of you who grew up Catholic may find more significance in these dates.  We lifetime protestants would barely notice them on the calendar if not for the profound marketing that goes into the selling of costumes and candy.  And yesterday, my Starbucks came in a Christmas cup!


Most folks today have missed the traditional meaning of the days – and I want to emphasize traditional not Biblical meanings.  But there is a connection between the two.  There is a point to be made about honoring the saints who have gone before us.  And while we protestants do not celebrate the venerated position of sainthood, we do use the word to describe the priesthood of all believers past and present. 


It’s easy to gloss over the words in the Apostle’s Creed.  We recite it like a long list.  Grab your hymnal and turn with me to #716, the Apostle’s CreedRead with me the last paragraph, which reads slightly different than how we traditionally say it:  READ


But in my reading this week, I had an “aha”.  The words “communion of saints” are meant to define what the holy Christian Church is.  It describes who we are as members of the church here and now and the church triumphant – made up of the saints who have gone before.  We’re still part of the Church of Jesus Christ whether we are living or dead!  That means that all those loved ones who have gone before you and who were in Christ are still part of the greater church that we are a part of too!  That means that we are in the company of the Apostle Paul, and Mary the mother of Jesus as well as Claude Coon and Carin Philippi and my Mom and many of your parents too!  Now that is reason to celebrate All Saints Day!  And we would do it best by honoring those saints in our hearts with memories and perhaps shared stories.


That brings me to the saints we will read about in Scripture today.  Abraham and Sarah.  They are part of the church triumphant too!  They are part of OUR church.  Can you imagine the next time you’re in a conversation with someone about the Virgin birth and the other person is getting really into the argument of how could this be and you get to say – “Well you know, Mary, the mother of Jesus is part of my church family.”  If you want to confuse someone into silence, that might just do it.


Let’s now turn to the scripture. Genesis 22:20-23:20.  We start with a little family history that is important as it comes into play a little later.



The name to catch there is “Rebekah”.  She would be Abraham’s grand-neice.  Just hold that thought for a week.  You can do that, right?



127 years old!  That means she was present in her son Isaacs life for 27 years.  That was a blessing.  Let us take a moment and thank God for the years we had with parents who have since passed away.


As we read the rest of this passage, pay attention to Abraham and his manner and how he is treated.  I think there is a lesson for us in it.  He has grieved her passing and is now moving on as is needed.


Gen 23:3-20

Listen to the evidence of respect and honor for Abraham:

“I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.” 

            Abraham comes with humility.

You are a mighty prince among us.

            The people of the land see him as a prince!

None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.

            They will do anything.

Ask him to sell it to me for the full price  

            Abraham refuses their charity because             he can afford the full price.

I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it.

            Still, the desire of the people of the land is to bless Abraham with the gift             of land and tomb.

the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.

            The allowed Abraham to pay for the field to “own” it straight out.


That was the negotiating of an honored and respected man.  There was no pretense, no wheeling and dealing.  Abraham presented himself as he truly was, but the Hittites already knew him.  His reputation among them was admirable.  They would do anything to serve him. 



I want to stick with just this one theme this morning.  What sort of honor and respect are you cultivating in your work place?  In your home?  In your school?  In your volunteering?  In this church?


Abraham was a sojourner, called out of his homeland to go wherever God would lead him.  He was a foreigner in Canaan.  The Hittites were the natives.  But he had built such a relationship with them that they were willing to give him what he needed as a gift.  How do you build that kind of relationship with people that aren’t like you?


You are a sojourner.  This world is not our own, our home is with that communion of saints we talked about at the beginning.  How many tribes are you a part of?  Where do you belong?  Your family is a tribe.  This church is your tribe.  And you may have others – places you know you belong.  But then there are the places you sojourn.  Places you go and work and play.  Places where the values and customs are different than the ones you hold to.  I recall a time, long ago, when Kirstyn was in 4th grade and had gone to a sleep over.  At 10:00 p.m. we received a call asking us to come and get her.  They were watching a movie that was out of her comfort zone.  She did not condemn those who stayed to watch it, but because of what she had learned in her tribe (church and home) she couldn’t stay.  She realized she was a foreigner in that place.  Who do you meet in the places you sojourn?  What type of relationships are you building there? Kirstyn graduated with relationships still intact with most of those girls, but they weren’t her close circle of friends.  They understood what she was about and she respected who they were and loved them.  They understood why Kirstyn had different ideals and standards than they did.  Most of them circulated through the church or youth group at one time or another. Is God recognized in you?  Are you living in such a way that the people in your spaces have a respect for you, but also an inquisitiveness about the God who dwells inside of you? 



Sometimes, I wish we all lived in a compound.  Some of you do seem to live in family compounds and in case of a Zombie Apocalypse I know where I’m going! But really, I am glad that we are not the type of church who ONLY does things with each other!  (Although I’d be happy to see a bit more of us hanging out together!)  As followers of Christ we are meant to be IN the world but not OF the world;  part of the daily grind and yet providing a distinct taste of otherworldliness.  Because the truth is, we are strangers here. 


We are called to live our life boldly for Christ with all the authority and assurance of any child of the King.  We need not apologize for who we are or what we believe.  And if you should ever feel alone, remember that your tribe is LARGE!  And the people of God have been around since the creation of the world are part of your church!  You can be who God has called you to be with courage and confidence and you do not have to defend God or yourself in the process.  Just commit to speaking the truth in love.  And today, let us thank God for those who spoke the truth in love to us who may no longer tread this earth’s plane, but whose words and actions drew us to Christ.