Father Abraham

Reflections on the Advent Wreath

1. Abraham

Abram: his name means ‘exalted father’, but this Abram has no children and the prospects don’t look good. It’s enough to make you laugh, really! Laugh, or cry. An old man and his wife who’s barren, supposedly. And he’s called ‘exalted father’! Father Abram! But Abram is a man with a mission, and he’s on a promise:

‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ Genesis 12:1-3

Abram – ‘exalted father’ – it’s not a big enough name for you! How about, Abraham – father of a multitude! So many offspring that you’d be as well counting the stars in the sky!

Well, it didn’t seem very promising, at least, not to begin with. But Abraham’s God is a God of promise, a God of covenant. Although there was a bit of a false start with Hagar and Ishmael; and that troubling incident with the young Isaac that made it look like the whole thing might be doomed before it had begun. But Father Abraham was to be the father of a multitude that no one could number. And so it was to be. Through faith in God, Abraham was blessed and through him we are all blessed. Because Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob… and so on and so on, via one king David, and so on, until from this strange and mysterious genealogy comes another Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.

When this Jesus talks of his Father, it’s not Joseph he has in mind, but the One who says, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”. Abraham, Jesus says, ‘rejoiced to see my day’.

The New Testament tells us that when we live by faith, we too are descendants of Abraham, part of the family.

And so, as members together of this family – the one with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as our Father, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – we join in worship as we rejoice to see God’s promise fulfilled in Jesus.

God of Abraham and Sarah, and all the patriarchs of old, you are our Father too. Your love is revealed to us in Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of David. Help us in preparing to celebrate his birth to make our hearts ready for your Holy Spirit to make his home among us. We ask this through Jesus Christ, the light who is coming into the world. Amen.

Common Worship:Times and Seasons, from which this prayer is taken, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2006.

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