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230709 Pentecost 6A Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67 Psalm 45 10-17, Romans 7: 14-25, Matthew 11:15-

+In the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit Amen

In this July week the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee celebrates the history culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians all over the country and overseas. As we celebrate NAIDOC the theme this year is Celebrating our Elders. Across every generation Elders have played and continue to play an important role and hold a prominent place in our communities and families. This is no less the case in the story of the family history of the Children of Israel, the generations of Abraham. Today’s Old Testament story is the history of the search for a wife for Isaac who was the son of Abraham.

Peoples’ lives would be changed as a result of knowing of the faith of Abraham and his descendants. Most often we think of blessings as gifts to be enjoyed, but when God blesses us, his blessings are intended to overflow to others and often as not overflow to generations who come after us. Abraham wanted his son Isaac to marry within the family. This was a common and acceptable practice at this time that had the added advantage of avoiding intermarriage with pagan neighbours.

A son’s wife was usually chosen by the parents, and it was common for a woman to be married in her early teens although not necessarily the case, Abraham’s servant Eliezer asked God for guidance in the important task of wife finding. Obviously, he had learned about faith and God from his master. We may wonder: “What are our family members, friends, and associates learning about God from watching us?” Can we be sure to seek God’s guidance before we embark on any venture and set an example for them of dependent faith? When Eliezer told his story to Laban, he spoke openly of God and his goodness. The girl who gave water to a Laban’s camels, the answer to Eliezer’s prayer, was willing to go with Eliezer, and so a wife was found for Isaac. She was the grand-daughter of one of Abraham’s brothers, Nahor and his wife Milcah. Her name was Rebekah.

Elders are the cultural knowledge holders, the trailblazers, nurturers, advocates, teachers, survivors, leaders, hard workers and loved ones of the generations before us. This love is passed on so that generations of elders are the ones who pick us up in times of hardship and celebrate the achievements and milestones of life. They encourage the teaching of our spiritual journey and help us to find a place in the world. The example of their lives helps us to experience life to the full in our generation, and their tenacity and strength gives us courage for our journey into the future. Their influence in their generation and the story of their lives helps us in our decision making now and for the generations who come after us.

What about Rebekah?

Some people are initiators, they help get the ball rolling. Rebekah would easily stand out in this group. Her life was characterized by initiative. When she saw a need she took action even though the action was not always right. It was Rebekah’s initiative that first caught the attention of Eliezer, the servant Abraham sent to find a wife for Isaac. It was common courtesy to give a drink to a stranger, but it took added character to also fetch water for ten thirsty camels. Later after hearing the details of Eliezer’s mission Rebekah was immediately willing to be Isaac’s bride.

We find in the history of the generations there are periods of inconsistency. Some generations follow God and others reject God. When Jesus was teaching the disciples about the kingdom of God, we read in today’s gospel that Jesus condemned the attitude of his generation who were like children in the market-place. He was imitating Elijah boldly confronting sin and pointing people to God. No matter what he said or did, they took the opposite view. They were cynical and skeptical because he challenged their comfortable, secure, and self-centered lives. Does this sound familiar? Too often we justify our inconsistencies because listening to God may require us to change the way we live.

In Jesus’ thanksgiving prayer to the Father he mentioned two kinds of people. The wise who are arrogant in their own knowledge and the infants who are humbly open to receive the truth of God’s word.

Are we humbly open to God and do we know God, that is, know God in an intimate relationship? The communion between God and his son Jesus is the core of their relationship. It is the relationship that is our desire.

God reveals himself to us through Jesus’ love for us, but we need to be willing to nurture the intimate and personal relationship which is obtained through baptism as we grow to know and recognize God’s spirit within us.

This is the Spirit which has sustained generations before us, and as little Miriam is baptized today, we will tell the salvation story. We ask for the Holy Spirit to be poured out in blessing and sanctification so that Miriam may be made one with Christ for ever. It is our prayer that she will learn of the Spirit of God, and that she will know God as her intimate friend and advisor. As we name Miriam, we also remember the history of Miriam, a descendant of Abraham and an Elder and Prophetess of the Children of Israel who with her brothers Moses and Aaron helped to shepherd the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the land of Canaan.

Today we pay our respects to the Elders we have lost and to those who continue to act for change and for the future across all our Nations and we give thanks for them.


The Reverend Canon Camellia Flanagan tssf


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