For Lent, we are using the book, The Art of Lent: A Painting a Day From Ash Wednesday to Easter, by Sister Wendy Beckett. This week, the theme is confidence. Our meditation for today is entitled, “Absolute Trust,” and the focus of our attention will be on the painting, Sacrifice of Abraham, 1994, Albert Herbert.
#tbh, is a social media tag that stands for, “to be honest,” to share an opinion. Teens began using it to say something nice about their friends, or a way of talking to others whom they don’t know well, or to exchange complements and “likes.” “#tbh you’re pretty,” etc. Or, “to be heard” to show an opinion was heard. It’s no longer a trend, but it’s usually a false generosity intended to illicit an in-kind response. An I’ll-promote-your-post-if-you-say-something-nice-about-me. “You’re pretty,” “you’re nice,” “your outfit is en pointe.”
Ahaz tagged his response to Isaiah #tbh when he said, “I’ll not ask God anything because I won’t put God to the test.” It was a false humility, and it revealed his fear – and, ultimately, his profound lack of trust in the God of Israel.
So God told Ahaz through Isaiah that all whom he feared will be irrelevant in the end, but Ahaz will not experience that peace because he didn’t really trust God anyway.
Conversely, Joseph, Matthew tells us, was a righteous person. When he found out that the young woman to whom he was betrothed was now pregnant – when they hadn’t yet the opportunity to consummate – he was respectful, desiring to treat Mary with regard and break up with her in private.
But when the angel of God met with him and told him who the baby growing in Mary’s belly actually is – the one that had been promised to the people of Israel for eons – Joseph trusted God. At the risk of humiliation before his peers, and the possibility of punishment for Mary, Joseph remained faithful to the covenant he began with Mary.
It was easier to believe this angel’s message because the promise of a messiah and the manner in which this messiah will come wasn’t made just to him. The promise was to the community, to the nation that God called to God’s self thousands of years earlier. It was repeated in their rituals, read to their children, and their children’s children. It was a collective trust the people of Israel maintained together. So when some lacked faith, others had faith for them.
We trust because we witness the life of Jesus, the one through whom all things were created and in whom the God who Created all things is pleased to dwell – the witness of the life of Jesus in each other. My father who believed that time-space in which he would see Jesus face-to-face, and his trust imprinted my 11-year-old soul. Y’all live out that trust in community, a membership covenant, a commitment to encourage each other in that faith through your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness, so that together we may grow stronger in expressing God’s love for all creation.
We trust, because together, we are members of Trust