Dear Friends,
During Lent this year we were reminded in a reading from Genesis 15 of God’s promise to Abram. In fact there are two promises here, that Abram will have a son (and through him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky), and secondly that his descendants will inherit the land of Canaan. Through the ensuing books of the Bible we see how God comes good on these promises, despite the seeming unlikelihood of their being achieved at the time they were made. After all Abram and his wife Sarai (later Abraham and Sarah) did not seem to be a force to be reckoned with, being but two people, and as the passages make clear, no longer in their youth. However when God is determined to do something it will be done. In the children’s song “Can you be sure that the rain will fall?” by Geoffrey Marshall-Taylor there is a wonderful chorus:- “God has promised. He never breaks a promise He makes, His word is always true.” So we find promises made to other Biblical figures coming true also, despite the odds against their being achieved.

However God knows that we are not always very good with promises. Often we fail to achieve even those simple things that we had promised to
others, or ourselves, such as getting in touch with others, or going on a diet! We also struggle with the promises that our God makes to us. Will they really come true? How long do we have to wait? In the life of Jesus we see just how far God will go to deliver on His promises. Firstly the life, death and resurrection of Jesus are not just random actions. God has planned these from the beginning. He knows how we falter, and how we need help. Jesus shows us how to live our lives, how we are called to love our God and one another, how we need to serve and care for one another. His death and resurrection show that our present lives are not the end, how there is a new life to be had with God, and how no event or outside person can stop this from happening.

It is also through Jesus that God’s promises to Abram/ Abraham find fulfilment. The Israelites clung to the idea that they were Abraham’s descendants by right through birth. But we know when Jesus weeps over the people of Jerusalem (Luke 13, verses 31-35), and from the statement of John the Baptist about God being able to make descendants of Abraham from the stones (Matthew 3 and Luke 3), that this wrong. The true descendants of Abraham are those who match him in attitude: in being open to God and His love, and having faith in His ability to transform and work through us. The true

Promised Land (God’s Kingdom)is now rather larger than the Canaan of antiquity/ the Israel of the present day. As the modern hymn “An army of ordinary people” puts it we are “heirs to the promise” and “inheritors of the land”. We each have a place as it says in John 14, verse 2 “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you”.

So as we approach Easter we can rejoice that God brings His promises to fulfilment, and that they have meaning to us. We should also remember that the true Easter message, the good news of God’s love, requires us to do something too. As Abraham endeavoured to follow God’s lead, so should we, as he went to new places with God as his companion and guide, so we need to do so as we move to new events and experiences in our lives. All too often one of the problems that we have is with understanding just what we can do for our God, and that He wants us to be active for Him, encouraging others, praying, caring, and looking to the future. We should not be afraid. As Jesus’ Resurrection reminds us, nothing can stop God, and He will always be with us.

Chris