Sarai Becomes Sarah and the Covenant is Sealed

Text: Genesis 17:15-27

Reflection and Question: When God promises Abraham that he will receive a son by Sarai, God also changes her name. Name-changing like this marks a change in relationship, reflected here in the covenant sealed in the act of circumcision. This passage emphasizes that Ishmael will also become the father of a great nation, but Isaac — whose name means “he laughs” — is the son with whom this covenant will be established. At the same time, the text makes plain that Ishmael was circumcised, leaving a strange ambiguity. What meaning do you see in the treatment of Abraham’s two sons?

Prayer: God of the covenants with Noah and Abraham, people laughed as Noah built the ark and Abraham laughed when You promised a son by Sarah. Sustain our faith as You did theirs so that we, like them, may do Your Will and follow Your Way. Amen.

This meditation is based on the Daily Lectionary Year 2 from the Book of Common Worship for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (1993).