Today our Advent theme was "Patriarches and Matriarchs" and I tried to imagine the stories of Abram & Sarai aka Abraham & Sarah, and of Elizabeth & Zechariah as if the women had told them. There was some reading of commentaries and some exegesis worked in there somewhere... it seemed to be quite well received, and this despite allusions to geriatic love-making!!
Anyway his is one of the hymns we sang, flawed in so far as it gives Abraham faith and Sarah doubt, when in fact they each laughed at the preposterous dea of a child in their dotage (read Genesis 18 only in the light of Genesis 17), but which, overall carries a powerful message:
1 "Go forth in faith, from kindred, home and custom.
Leave the old gods":- what easy words to say!
How hard to move, with Abraham's decision,
break free, and risk a new uncertain way.
2 How hard to trek from ease in Pharaoh's palace,
from boardroom power, or popular acclaim,
to bear discomfort, ridicule, or malice,
with earth's discarded people, in God's name.
3 Yet when we laugh at hope, like Sarah, grieving
that nothing changes, nothing can be done,
we bear, like her a promise past conceiving,
of justice, joy, shalom, and kingdom-come.
4 Within the womb of every best tradition
the Spirit moves, and cannot be ignored.
We feel the kicking of our inner vision
and sing, "My soul shall glorify the Lord!"
5 The voices from the past re-echo round us.
Take courage from the faith of many friends.
Go forth in faith, and look ahead to Jesus,
on whom, from start to finish, faith depends.
6 With faith newborn, and passionate for justice,
together now, we'll travel out from home,
to sacrifice the peace of calm uprightness,
an struggle for the city of Shalom.
Brian Wren (born 1936) © 1989 Stainer & Bell Ltd
We sang it to the tune of "heaven shall not wait" (Iona) but it oculd also be sung to Finlandia or the Londonderry Air to name but two.