Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
Some months ago during a Time with Younger Disciples, Dr. Negley led the children in a very animated version of the children’s song, Father Abraham. If you are familiar with that song then you know that it has accompanying motions of swinging right and then left arms, of raising right and left feet, of moving one’s head up and down, and turning around before finally sitting down all the while singing: Father Abraham has many sons, Many sons has Father Abraham, I am one of them and so are you, So let’s just praise the Lord.
The word of God came to John the Baptist, son of Zechariah and Elizabeth and kinsman of Jesus. John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The crowds came out to hear John proclaiming this message in the wilderness. He certainly captured their attention by calling a “brood of vipers.” He wanted to know who had warned them that they might flee from the wrath to come. He tells them to bear the fruit of repentance. In other words, their faith should be exhibited not only by their words but by deeds. It would appear that John assessed that some of them expected to enter God’s kingdom by hanging onto the coattails of their ancestor Abraham. John disturbs their complacency by asserting that God is not dependent upon these descendants of Abraham for God is able to raise up children of Abraham from stones. These descendants of Abraham were privileged, but they were expected to demonstrate their faith by works and not just relying on their ancestry to claim their inheritance.
Father Abraham had many sons, but nowhere is there any mention of grandsons! The same has been said of God, namely that God has children but no grandchildren. This observation focuses on the relationship between God and the believer rather than God and the believer’s child. We cannot rest on the laurels of our ancestors. Each of us is called into a relationship with God and we are to discover and pursue the special ministry God has for us.
Our Father, we thank You for the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us and we give thanks for all those who fought a good fight, who finished their race and who have kept the faith. Each one of us must fight our own fight, must run our own race and Lord willing keep our faith in the process. When we grow weary and if we become discouraged, give us strength and hope, while ever reassuring us that You will not fail us or forsake us. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.