Penrith Road, Berwick Hills, Middlesbrough TS3 7JR
I always enjoy the stories of the vet James Herriot. One in particular always makes me smile. During the Second World War a famer was leaning over his gate watching a couple of soldiers struggling to pull up a road sign. He asked what they were doing and they answered “If the Germans invade we don’t want them to find the right directions.” “Don’t know why you bothered” The farmer said “Yon signpost’s been pointing in t’wrong direction for the past twenty years!”
Signposts are only useful if they show the right way. The Bible is full of accounts of people finding the right way to live, the right way that leads to God. During the four weeks advent we will be looking at some of the people who found the right direction. Firstly there is Abraham. We read his story in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Abraham lived about 4000 years ago in the country we know of as Iraq, the land between the two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates.
Abraham was married to Sarah and they lived in a family group. The family worked hard raising large numbers of sheep and goats and they because wealthy. The surrounding tribes and nations worshipped a number of different gods often represented by idols and graven images and often involving child sacrifice. Abraham was a deep thinking man spending time in prayer and meditation. He began to believe in an unseen God who moved in peoples’ hearts. So it was that he was open to God’s word and in the quietness of his own mind God spoke to him. “Abraham I want you to leave this place and everyone you know. Take your family, your servants and all you own and go where I tell you. Do as I say and you will be blessed. I will make you known as a great man and your family will become a great people. “So Abraham instructed his household to pack up everything and they all journeyed into the wilderness. For many months the people lived in tents, moving their animals wherever the grazing seemed good. God guided them just as He said and brought them eventually to the land of Canaan. At last God had shown them the place that was to be their new home. During the time of travel Abraham listened to God. He followed the signpost in his own heart. Abraham had no one but God to guide him. There was no written law to show that he was acting in the right way. It was faith alone that acted as his signpost. The letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament says this of him. ‘’By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place where we would receive his inheritance, obeyed and went even though he did not know where he was going.’’
This seems to be the signpost of Advent. We need to have an open heart and mind listening to God and then acting on it. Abraham reached the Promise Land and we look forward to the promise of Christmas, the gift of the Christ child when God takes on human form and comes to be among us.