February 23: The More Things Change

The Church of the Ascension Lenten Devotional

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Today’s reading is the story of Abram, his wife, Sarai and their maid, Hagar. As a 21st-century, pink-pussycat-hat–wearing feminist, I recognize Margaret Atwood’s inspiration for The Handmaid’s Tale. I am appalled by the treatment of Hagar by Abram and Sarai.

Sarai has her reasons for wanting Abram, 86, to reproduce. The Lord has made a covenant with Abram granting his descendants land. Sarai feels too old to conceive. She doesn’t trust God. She interferes, as Eve in the Garden of Eden. Sarai offers up Hagar, a servant (an Egyptian) who has been with them 10 years. Abram takes Hagar and she conceives. Abram doesn’t trust God either.

Hagar is pregnant and contemptuous. Sarai is enraged. Did she really think Hagar would hand over her child? Abram says, “Your maid is in your power; do to her as you please.” Abram is weak in flesh and mind. Hagar is with his child and Abram does not protect her from Sarai’s harsh treatment. Hagar runs away but is told by an angel to go back and submit. This angel predicts her son to be “a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and every man’s hand against him.” Thousands of years later, Abram’s two sons, of different mothers, are still feuding over lands granted to Abram’s descendants by the Lord.


  • Psalm 22:23-31
  • Genesis 16:1-6
  • Romans 4:1-12



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Sermon: 21st Sunday after Pentecost

Listen to the sermon preached by Mother Liz Maxwell at our worship service on October 17, 2021. The lessons for this day: Isaiah 53:4-12; Psalm 91:9-16; Hebrews 5:1-10; Mark 10:35-45.