Commemoration of Sarah

January 20

Today, we rejoice to remember the Lord’s handmaiden Sarah, wife of Abraham and ancestress of the Messiah.

Just when some might be thinking about a bit of blissful retirement, Sarai’s big adventure begins. She and her husband, Abram, had never been blessed with children. They doted a bit on Abraham’s nephew, Lot. He was, Sarai must have thought, the nearest she’d ever come to having a son.

But then God speaks to her husband, and their entire life is turned upside down. She learns that she’s moving. Where? God would let them know when they got there. She learns that God has promised that she and her husband would have children (though up until that time, Sarai was barren, unable to bear a child). She also learns that God intended to give to her offspring the land of Canaan, where a child born of her lineage would bring blessing to all the families of the earth. She even got a new name: Sarah.

It was all a bit much to swallow, but she followed her husband obediently. Walking together in faith, they learned that the living God takes delight in doing what seems to our minds to be utterly impossible. That is how He teaches His children to trust His promises, not their own wisdom, and receive from Him every good thing. But this walk is not a single, steady ascent. It’s no victory march. It has its ups and downs. Sarah knew them all.

When famine sent them into foreign lands, her husband, in fear and doubt about God’s protection, passed her off more than once as merely his sister. God intervened and Sarah’s honor was protected. As the years passed and no child appeared, Sarah suggested that Abraham should take her maid and have a child with her. Abraham did so, but again God intervened and showed that this was not how He would keep His promise. It wasn’t until every earthly avenue had been closed to them that the blessed Trinity appeared and announced the fulfillment of the promise within the year. Sarah, hiding in the tent, couldn’t keep from laughing upon hearing the announcement. She was old and saw no way she’d ever conceive.

God, though, had the last laugh as Sarah miraculously conceived in her old age and gave birth to a little boy. They named him Isaac, which means “laughter.” God hadn’t needed them to figure out for Him how to keep His promises after all! Sarah laughed again at how everyone would join her mirth at this most ridiculous situation. What is impossible for humans is never impossible for God. Nothing is more certain than His promises to us. Sarah learned this and laughed with delight. We remember and rejoice!

Prayer: Lord and Father of all, You looked with favor upon Sarai in her advanced years, putting on her a new name, Sarah, and with it the promise of multitudinous blessings from her aged womb. Give us a youthful hope in the joy of our new name, being baptized into the promised Messiah, that we too, might be fruitful in Your kingdom, abounding in the works of Your Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Weedon, William Celebrating the Saints 20-21