Abraham: A Man of Faith

My dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,

Welcome to the Bishop’s Blog!
The story of Abraham’s sacrifice sends shudders down my spine. Some awful things are done in the name of religion. Even though the child is spared, it can disturb us that such an act as child sacrifice could even be used as a test of Faith. Of course, what saves the day is Abraham being called to found a Faith that rejects child-sacrifice. I cannot close this paragraph without mentioning our own society which tragically continues to see hundreds of thousands of infants killed before birth. It is a tragedy that they are killed. It is an equal tragedy that it remains such a hidden part of society’s life, especially when we are told to ‘save lives’.The poor ram caught in the bush attracts my sympathies next. ‘The Lord will provide’ says Abraham, and so it is. Something has to be killed it seems, to please the deity. Was there a ‘good shepherd’ out and about somewhere, scouring the countryside for his lost tup? We need not be concerned. The core of the story is Abraham’s test of Faith, and the Lord’s generous providence.The image of the ram caught in the bush appealed to me when I was trying to come up with imagery for my episcopal coat-of-arms. Perhaps it’s worth me sharing some of my thoughts with you. Something in me can identify with that poor animal, stuck in the bush, unable to escape, awaiting its fate. Its ultimate release will serve to benefit Abraham rather than achieve its own personal aspirations (assuming rams have personal aspirations!). In like manner, we can be held fast by goodness knows what, awaiting rescue goodness knows when. Even when it happens it can benefit others rather than ourselves. But the Lord will provide. The outcome is His. My plans must give way to His, and I’m content to go with that because I believe He has my best interests at heart.Ultimately it was the Son of God who was sacrificed on a mountain, Calvary. At times when we are tempted to complain about what Faith in God asks us to sacrifice we need only call to mind that all we have comes from Him, and that He has given us all He has in His Son. It’s not easy though.With my blessing, especially for those who are experiencing particular doubts and difficulties.


Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster