The LORD said to Abram: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s
house to a land that I will show you… Abram went as the LORD directed him. (Gen 12:1; 4)
Faith is trusting in what another person tells you is true, because that person is trustworthy. Every fruitful act of faith requires at least one person who is trusting and another person who is trustworthy.
However, faith is not solely reliant upon trust. Faith requires some prior knowledge. For example, when a man from out-of-town whose car is running near empty asks you where the nearest gas station is, the only way the man will be able get to the gas station (imagine for now his smart phone has no signal) is by trusting you whom he believes to be trustworthy. However, for you to be trustworthy you must know exactly where the nearest gas station is. Without that knowledge you could not be considered
a trustworthy reference for those urgently needing to fuel up.
Thankfully, God knows all and can be completely trusted. Abram understood this about God in his meeting with God. Perhaps it is also the case that Abram was selected out of all the people on earth by God because Abram was the most trusting person on earth: the most discerning and the most guileless; the most believing and the most hopeful.
Now Abram didn’t need to stop and ask and trust someone as to where to find water for his nearly exhausted camel. Abram was already in the “land of his kinfolk”. Abram appears to have had a call to trust, a desire to trust already planted in his heart. This “vocation” was just waiting to be called out by God. When God did call, “Abram went as the Lord directed him.”
On this 2nd Sunday in Lent we place on our bulletin cover a work by Russian Symbolist painter, Mikhail
Nesterov entitled Elder or Abraham, Servant of God. Nesterov was an artist but not untouched by politics. He painted many religious works throughout his career, but under the new Communism he was no longer allowed to publicly paint religious works.
In the work we examine today we see a familiar theme of Nesterov: a wise elderly man standing by a scenic river in deep meditation. Nesterov’s first famous work, The Hermit (1889), is also a river scene (possibly the Volga), as is his painting of Leo Tolstoy. Here we see Abram leaning on a staff. Is he bent over by age or by prayer or both? Is
he on the bank of the Euphrates after his call by God to leave the land of Ur or is he on Jordan’s bank before he separates from his nephew Lot? In either case he is certainly in the presence of the unseen God.
Abram is painted here in white as one who has been in the presence of God. In Symbolist fashion the water of the river means more than water. It serves as the threshold dividing the figure of Abram from the thick Impressionistic forest of the unknown land that Abram is about to
embark towards. On the other side of the bank we spy a path. It is the way that God has made for Abram.
God also has made a path for each of us. Will we listen; will we trust; will we “go forth”?
-Steve Guillotte, Director of Pastoral Services