God has a way of humbling our pride. We consider ourselves in the Christian Church to be participants in the covenant people, chosen by God through Jesus Christ, to be the wild branches grafted into the root of Israel (cf. Romans 11:17-24), and thus heirs of all of the promises that God gave to Israel (cf. Galatians 4:4-7). As we heard last week, we are a special people, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. And that's pretty great. But lest we think we are better than anyone else, we encounter this story about Hagar and her son, Ishmael, in our Old Testament text for the morning.
Wilton Lewis stood with his hands on his hips, studying the sanctuary wall, not trusting himself to speak. He wanted to spit, was thwarted by the fact that he was inside, and instead swallowed hard and said, “This is vile. Disgusting and vile.” He turned to his right and added, “I apologize, Reverend Cashmore. This does not represent the good people of Port William. You know that, I hope.”
Since Albert Einstein is considered the genius above all geniuses, he is often credited quotes he never said. (If Einstein said it, it must be true.) That includes the saying that insanity is defined as doing the same thing again and again and expecting to get a different result. Actually, it wasn't until the 1980's that he was first connected to that saying, but it doesn't matter who actually said it, because these three scriptures seem to validate the saying.
Seven years ago, our family moved from southern Virginia to northeast Wisconsin. As you might expect, spring comes later here. Fall comes earlier. And winter is a much different experience in northeast Wisconsin than it was in southern Virginia. The same temperatures that seemed bone-chilling in Virginia are good reason to leave the mufflers and mittens at home in Wisconsin. Of course, many of the retired folks in my congregation here take their cue from the geese and fly south for the winter each year.