Romans 4:1–5, 12–17 (NRSV)
4 What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. 5 But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.
12 and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
16 For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
Writing to the Roman Christians about the footsteps of the journey of faith, the apostle Paul calls to mind the faith of Abraham, who trusted God and believed God, and to whom God credited righteousness. He writes about a God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not—who continues to call us to a letting-go of old ways to engage in a new way of righteous living, founded in the cross of Christ. This journey might take us through tragic situations. It might even lead us to question why we cling to the cross. In the book “The Cross and the Lynching Tree,” the late liberation theologian James Cone asserts that the cross is scandalous. But he also proclaims that in it, we see the very power of God.
On this continuing journey, we who believe and trust in God follow in the footsteps of our ancestors, including Abraham and Sarah. While the journey will surely take us to some disheartening places, it will ultimately lead us to a deeper relationship with God.
God of life beyond death, God who calls into being things that were not: Help us to turn to you and follow in the steps of our ancestors, as you keep us near the cross of Christ. Amen.