Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Who's The Boss?

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

June 22:

Call:    Matthew 10: 32-33
Text:    Genesis 21: 8-21
Prayer:  W&S #78
Psalm:   Psalm 86: 1-10, 16-17    (749)
Closing: Romans 6: 1b-5, 11
Special: High School Graduates

         Who's The Boss?

Can you be honest with me"

I invite you to raise your hands
If you went past the church sign this week
   Saw the question asked in my title "Who's The Boss?"
And   almost immediately responded with an answer
      Like:    That's easy,   It's Marge!"

And those of you who didn't raise your hands
   Are invited to do so now if
You feel like slapping your forehead
in the style of a "I could have had a V-8" commercial
because you are wondering why an answer that obvious
   hadn't come to your mind.

Obvious? Yes
Correct?    Yes, again

But not for this message.

For this message is about an answer
that should be even more obvious
an answer that is even more correct.
But an answer that you and I have forgotten
time     after time     after time

The boss is God.
But all too often you and I forget - or even worse, ignore - it
And instead act as if God should obey us
   And grant us whatever we desire

Amazingly, you and I spend a lot of our time telling God what to do
        Rather than giving thanks for what God has already done for us.

Of course, what God expects of us can be challenging.
   Often we do not want to do it

It was challenging for Abraham in this mornig's text.

And just dealing with the text   is challenging for us.

The text is the story of Abraham and Ishmael
   His first child
   Who - despite that era's preferences for the first born son -
is conspicuously absent
from all the Biblical recitations of the patriarchs

We hear throughout our scriptures of
   Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
We do not hear of
   Abraham, Ishmael, and Nebaioth   [Genesis 25:13]

And the story of why that is     is the source of our struggle

And struggling with this text may be one more example of
        our thinking that  God      should ask us  for advice.
But at the same time that struggle
   Forces us to remember   that God is the boss.

The background to the text:
   Abraham and Sarah were married and in love
      But she was barren
      She just could not conceive.

This saddened and distressed him
   It made her feel inadequate
And so she came up with a solution
as to how she could give Abraham an offspring

Sarah owned an Egyptian slave girl by the name of Hagar
   She directed Abraham to have a child by her

In Sarah's mind, she would be giving her husband a child by proxy
   I am sure that she thought that this
would make her a more complete wife to Abraham.

But problems began when Hagar conceived
   And the slave girl having done what her mistress could not do,
   Began to "look with contempt" on Sarah
   And Sarah, in turn, became cruel to Hagar.

Now Abraham was 86 years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.
   Abraham loved Ishmael.

Years later God and Abraham took a walk
       And God promised Abraham that he will give him another son
      This one, by Sarah!

And God kept God's promise.

When Abraham was 100 years old
[and even more strikingly, when Sarah was 90]

She gave birth to Isaac.

Now, those ages startle us and catch our interest
   But we cannot allow them to distract us
From the lessons to be taught
both by the birth of Isaac
and   by the separation from Ishmael.

Unfortunately - at least in human terms -
the birth of Isaac
did not improve the relationship between the two women.

And that brings us to our text.
   [Genesis 21: 8-21]

Don't you want to say
   "God, how could you do that?"
or perhaps,
   "God, in my opinion you shouldn't have done that."
And maybe even,
   "What in the world kind of God are you?"

But God had plans for both boys.
   Both would be the fathers of many nations
      The Jews and ultimately the Christians through Isaac
      The Moslems through Ishmael.

And the author of Genesis makes it clear
that Abraham didn't want to do this
he did not want to remove or abandon his older son

But he did it
And he did it because
   He knew that despite the pain it caused him
      God was his boss.

Abraham's entire life was one of doing what God told him to do.

Remember, when God commanded Abraham to pack up
And go wherever God told him to go?

Abraham undoubtedly did not look forward to
leaving his father   and his family and his home

But God was his boss    and so he went.

And then there is the story of Abraham taking Isaac up the mountain to be sacrificed
   Even raising the hand with his knife in it.

Now, having firmly planted in our minds
What Abraham went through to obey God
Particularly in our text
we need to ask ourselves some questions:

Remembering Abraham,
When God tells us that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves
and   to even love our enemies
Can you and I respond,  "That's asking too much, God." ?

Remembering Abraham,
When God tells us that we are to be generous to the needy
Can we respond,      "That's asking too much, God." ?

Remembering Abraham,
When God tells us to take time out of our schedules for worship
   To offer praise, prayer, service, and thanksgiving
   And to strengthen our understanding
Can we respond, "That's asking too much, God." ?

Abraham had to eject his first born son
   Sending him out of the community

And you and I gripe about
   God's telling us to love others every bit as much as we love ourselves.

Abraham had to eject his first born son
   Sending him out of the community

And you and I gripe about sharing our bounty with those who need help

Abraham had to eject his first born son
   Sending him out of the community

And you and I gripe about having to go to church
   Every week
   Especially during the summer.

And so when the sermon title asks
   "Who's the boss?"

Abraham answers with his actions
And you and I answer with our actions

Are we going to like our answers?
More importantly,    Is God going to like our answers?