By the Oaks of Mamre
Passage: Genesis 18:1–18:15
A short story from Abraham's life introduces us to our summer sermon series on Trees.
Abraham has settled, momentarily, at the Great Trees of Mamre and finds himself acting as host to those travelling to worship at this impressive shrine. A "shrine" because it was remarkable that these trees could find the soil conditions and water required to grow large and to become a local landmark. The inhospitality of this harsh environment led the locals to believe that the trees were in some sense touched by a divine power or themselves divine. Worshippng the trees, then, was to invite the same divine power to bless their lives.
This story, then, is ironic because we know that Abraham has been called by God to separate himself from those around him who would worship idols like "great trees" instead of God. Moreover, God--visiting Abraham in this story in the form of three men--sits in the shade of a tree that He created, but that human beings have made into a god. And in the shade of this idol that people pray to for prosperity and fertility, God promises Abraham and his wife Sarah exactly that…prosperity and fertility.
The story makes us wonder about a great many things including how we might wrongfully take something that God created and begin to worship it. Not trees, of course, but other things that God created good but that we have mis-used and come to worship like pleasure or power.