(Also, closest Sunday to UCA Anniversary)

Genesis 21: 8-21
Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away, but God promises to make Ishmael’s descendants into a great nation. When Hagar and Ishmael find themselves without food and water in the wilderness, God comes to their rescue.
Psalm 86: 1-10, 16-17
A plea for God’s mercy and rescue for the Psalmist who is in trouble, and a song of praise and affirmation of God’s greatness.
Romans 6: 1b-11
Followers of Christ have died to sin and been raised to a new life in Jesus. Therefore we are no longer slaves to sin, and death no longer has power over us, but we are alive for God in Christ.
Matthew 10:24-39
Disciples are not greater than their teacher, and so if the teacher is insulted, the disciples will be even more. But, followers of Jesus must not fear those who can destroy only the body. Rather we must be willing to acknowledge Jesus, proclaim his message publicly and not seek to save our lives. When we seek to save our lives we lose them. Jesus did not come to bring peace, but conflict, and we are to love Christ more than our own lives.
(Bible summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Delores Williams offers a black womanist reading of Hagar, that she, like “many black women, goes into the wide world to make a living for herself and for her child, with only God by her side.” This reading provides dignity to Hagar, and to all those who experience injustice. Like Hagar, they can enact agency. They are not dependent on the existing familial systems of injustice. As they seek to make their way, they can expect to find God with them, attentive to all who cry for justice.
(Rev Dr Steve Taylor, guest contributor to Church of Scotland resources, quoting Delores S. Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk, Orbis, 1993, 33)

Bob Cornwall writes, “As I’ve pondered the story of Hagar and Ishmael, I’m reminded that God hears the cries of people in need, including people who live outside our own circles. This reading is fitting at a time when we’re wrestling with the legacy of slavery in this country as well as whether black lives truly matter. It’s fitting because it reminds us that Hagar was a slave and an African. That’s why it figures prominently in the African American churches. It tells the story of God’s liberation of an African slave and her son.” (Bob Cornwall, Ponderings on a faith journey)

Everyone wants to be Hagar,
brave, resilient, probably beautiful,
a good mother,
a good pray-er who remembers
the time God gave her a sweet spring.
Everyone wants to be Hagar
because that’s the heart of the story,
but, when the parts get passed around,
this is who gets to be Hagar —
the ones who are enslaved,
cast out, vulnerable, lost,
sexually abused, thirsty or endangered.
The Hagar-people get the well.
It is historically accurate
that in many cases
the progeny of
the ensarahs and enslavers,
the casters-out,
those who endanger,
turn away from vulnerability,
blame victims, get excited
about protecting their own rights,
and ignore those thirsty
for a sip of hope,
often get the land.
The well is life,
but the land often ends up
just a mouth-full of dust.
(Source: Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Hagar, by Marc Chagall

Hagar’s Song
Sarah sent me far away
lest my son usurp her boy
in fortune, rank, or father’s love.
Abraham his wife obeyed,
for peace at home he gave
away his peaceful heart.
God had told him, so he said,
my son would prosper,
Ishmael would grow to be a nation.
Beneath the trees I laid him,
weak with hunger, dying.
Let me go first, I wept, I wept, I wept.
God heard my son cry out,
and spoke to me a promise:
Ishmael will grow to be a nation.
Before my eyes water of life,
I ran to my child, we drank,
we spilled our joy to grow seeds of hope.
I am Hagar, Sarah’s servant,
mother of the first born of Abraham;
God was with my son, grew Ishmael.
(Source: Rev Dr Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story)

More like my teacher: Matthew 10:24–39
Jesus, bid me lose my life
so I may find more life with you.
Jesus, bid me stand my ground,
so I stand for peace with you.
Jesus, bid me claim your Way,
so I may enter your kin-dom now.
Jesus bid me risk my life,
so I may gain a life worth living.
Jesus, whisper life to me,
that I may shout it with my being.
Jesus, meet me in the dark,
and in the light I’ll speak with freedom.
Jesus, make me more like you:
whisper, linger, bid me come to life!
(Source: Rev Dr Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story)

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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