Sermons

Summary: Sarah's me-ism blinded her to Ishmael's value; Abraham's comfort blinded him to how best to support Hagar and Ishmael; Hagar, like many of our mothers, had to trust God in the desert. We today must support the Hagars of this world.

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The barren landscape seemed to dance before her eyes, as she looked toward a horizon littered with debris, strewn with the rubbish of thousands of careless people who had gone this way. Filthy and dirty as it was, though, it seemed to dance before her eyes, for the sun was high above and hot; the humidity was reaching saturation proportions, and streams of sweat with their searing salt were attacking her. She could not see straight. She could not focus on what was in front of her.

But it was not only the blistering heat, not only the ugly garbage that careless people drop behind when they are hurrying on to accomplish things and get somewhere; it was also the prospect of all she had to do now. How in the name of all that's holy was she going to survive it, shoved out of the only home she'd known for fifteen years, shoved out, unceremoniously, with precious little to go on, with no job, no destination, no place to live, and not even a decent letter of credit that she could use to open the doors of some cheap shelter.

Already she felt dizzy, light-headed, and she hadn't been out in the sun fifteen minutes. No, it wasn't just the heat; it was the horrible suddenness, the dazzling finality of his decision.

What had he been thinking of, anyway? And why was there no notice? Why was there no warning? Just up and out, pack up your brat and get out of here.

Your brat! Your brat! As if her son were not also his son. As if they had not come together that night a decade and a half ago and created something beautiful. But now, you and your brat just get out of here, right now.

Of course it had to be his wife. Without question it was his wife. He had always been unable to stand up to her. Sometimes iron-willed, but sometimes coquettish and helpless; sometimes decisive and clear, but sometimes unsure and insecure … his wife had been pretty hard to deal with all these years. No picnic living in the same household with her, even though if one knew one’s place, it was possible to stay out of the way most of the time. Often she had seen his sidelong glances, and if she had seen them and had known what they meant, surely that girl-woman he was married to had seen them too.

So maybe there is no mystery as to why she was being expelled. In fact, it's a wonder it hadn't happened before; it's a wonder that when her son and his father had gone hunting with such a joy in their companionship that there hadn't been a showdown. It's a wonder that when, to everyone's surprise, the old boy and his luxury-loving wife announced, with sheepish grins covering both their faces, that they were going to have a baby … it's a wonder it hadn't happened then. And she had waited a long time for the other shoe to drop.

For a while she allowed herself to think it might work. Her teenager, who had managed to live somewhat in the shadows and in the back rooms of the house all these years, took an innocent delight in his new baby brother, or half-brother, although she had noticed that that term was never used. It was just, "Look out for the baby" or "Where is my child's blanket?"… with a certain sharp twist on the word my.

It's a wonder this showdown had not happened before, but it hadn't, and she had allowed herself to think that by now, all was settled and she would be permitted to raise her son in a quiet, careful way, at an arm's length from his father, maybe, but at least safe and secure.

But now this. This afternoon. What had done it? What had brought things to the boiling point? Just a little innocent play between two boys, one of them a gangly, almost childish teenager, and the other a chubby toddler who had really found his legs in the last couple of weeks and whose shrieks of joy were noisy testimony to the fun he was having. Why in the world would a small child's joy create such resentment in that woman? Why would the laughter of two youngsters, who shared a father and a household, be such a problem for anybody?

Now she remembered that years back, while she was carrying her son, the same thing had happened. She had felt this icy-cold personality once before, and had been shut out of the house, on the streets, pregnant, for several days, until he had been able to get control of the situation. Pretty ironic back then, because, after all, who had really driven them together anyway? Who was it who had set up the unsanctioned union in the first place but the old woman who had thought it would be better for her husband to take his pleasure elsewhere than to have to service him herself. Where did she come off being so self-righteous?

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