I. In an Ascension third-grade classroom last week, we talked about what the name “Jesus” means, and how the meaning of one’s name can be revealing. “Jesus” means “God saves.” Sarah and Abraham gave their son the name “Isaac.” He was a surprise since Sarah was 90 and Abraham was 100. Sarah wondered, “Now that I am worn out and my husband is old, am I still [to have a son]?”
But the Lord said to Abraham: “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really bear a child, old as I am?’ Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do? At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. But he said, “Yes, you did.”
Isaac: It means, “laughter.”
II. Not in her wildest dreams did Sarah expect to have a baby. Not in his wildest nightmares could Abraham have foreseen the torture of surrendering his son. That wasn’t the future he expected for himself and his wife and the son who was named “laughter,” the boy of his dreams. Isn’t it telling that we name the young people who came to this country with their immigrant parents, “Dreamers”? As they grew, they believed that they would be granted a path to citizenship, even if it took a long time. Not in their dreams or nightmares would they have expected that things would turn out as they have, that they would once again have to live in the shadows and fear that their families will be torn apart.
III. But God has the last word. Although Abraham relinquished his hold on his lone heir, he was granted heirs as “countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore.”
We may be asked to relinquish our planned future, but only to be offered another possible future. This is not mere wishful thinking, but deep and proven faith. Peter, James, and John were made more able to head back down to the valley after their exhilarating mountaintop experience. They caught a glimpse of the Risen Lord and that was enough to see them through the suffering and struggle that they would soon experience. Jesus came to show us that all suffering ends in new life, all dying ends in resurrection. There isn’t just a chance that God will intervene in our future: we count on it.
May Dreamers, and all of us who dream, continue to dream as we catch a glimpse of the Risen Lord. That Lord is embodied in us who bring to birth God’s reign of love and justice here and now. We are the true and risen Body of Christ. After all, “If God is for us,” St. Paul says today, “who can be against us?”
h/t: Diane Bergant