The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.
Our life is a journey. But many of us don’t think of our life as a journey. It doesn’t consciously enter our minds. We are too busy living our life every day. We don’t pay much attention to where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we are going. Whatever occupies our attention at that moment—we understand that as our ‘life’.
Abraham, the father of faith, didn’t think of his life as a journey. Not consciously, at least. He was busy living his life, from one day to the next. For 75 years. He had his wife, family, and relatives around him. He had everything he needed. He was content. You can tell by the fact that he never left Haran after his family had moved there. Even the writer of Genesis tells us—
But when they came to Harran, they settled there.Genesis 11:31
It was only after God called Abraham to leave Haran that Abraham started to see his life as a journey. He was shaken out of his routine. His life suddenly had a destination. It was no longer about just getting by. One that was unknown to him, but which God promised.
The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”Genesis 12:1
Abraham had no idea where he was going. The only thing he knew was that he now had this desire live for something greater than himself. There still remained a sense of uncertainty. He wasn’t sure how someone like him would bless all peoples of the earth. Yet he walked.
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.Genesis 12:4
We are all quite familiar with Abraham’s story. Some of us have heard it many times over the years. But something caught my attention when I read it this time. Abraham travels to the land of Canaan, and there God reveals another layer to his promise. Canaan would be Abraham’s new home. Only not now. But Abraham doesn’t just continue travelling right after that. Instead, he does this—
So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.Genesis 12:7b
What does this mean? Abraham worshipped God. He didn’t let the moment just pass by. Before continuing on his journey, he expressed his thankful heart to God in a concrete and meaningful way.
Abraham doesn’t do this once. He does it again later on. Worship becomes an integral part of his journey.
From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.Genesis 12:8
Abraham worshiped as he journeyed. He did not move around aimlessly. He journeyed with an awareness of God’s guiding hand in his life, despite the uncertainty he experienced. In that sense, worship was his way of acknowledging and giving thanks to God’s faithfulness. Not only so, it gave his journey a sense of focus and direction.
Last Wednesday marked 21 years since my family immigrated to Canada. I came to Canada with my parents and my sister on June 7, 2002. I still remember that day quite vividly. We came while the World Cup was happening in Korea. I was too young to fully process everything that happened. All I knew was that my parents wanted to move to Canada, so my sister and I, we just followed. Looking back now, I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for my parents to take that drastic step. They had no other family here. No connections either. It was going to be starting completely from scratch. They risked everything by leaving home.
One major change I noticed in my parents after moving here was that they started attending church (TKPC). I didn’t grow up in a Christian family. Neither of my parents were Christians. At first, I think they went to church because they wanted to meet other Koreans and find a sense of community here. But gradually, they came to faith. I can only understand how that could have come to be.
Like Abraham, they were on a journey that was unpredictable and uncertain. Yet while they were on their journey, their awareness of God’s presence in their life suddenly became more real. They started to see how God was with them even before they moved to Canada, during all those years leading up to it. Worship no longer became something to do once a week. Worship was meaningful and important to them. It gave them a clearer sense of focus and direction in their journey with God.
I’m sure this is not something unique to my parents. Your parents or your grandparents are also immigrants. When it comes to your grandparents especially, I see how important worship was and still is to this day. Charley’s grandparents attend Wednesday and Saturday services faithfully. To them, worship and journey are not separate things.
Even though you may not have the same experience as them, I’m sharing all this with you today for a reason. Though you may not think it, your life is a journey too. It is no less significant than theirs. Rather than journeying through life blindly, worship as you journey. God will open your eyes to see how he has been and is present in your life. You will come to a deeper understanding of where you’ve come from, where you are, and where you are going.
Some of you may come to worship on Sundays because you have to. Some of you may come to see your friends and hang out. Some of you may come without thinking, simply out of habit. Whatever the reason is, that’s fine. We all start somewhere. I’m always glad that you’re here and not at home sleeping.
But one thing I want to encourage all of you to do is not to neglect the importance of worship in your life. Sometimes we think our life and worship have nothing to do with each other. Your life and worship are connected. Worship mindfully. Spend some time reflecting on your week before the service. Give your entire attention during the hour of worship. See how your experience of worship changes. See how your understanding of your own journey changes. Today’s passage ends like this—
Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.Genesis 12:9
Abraham’s journeyed in stages. He didn’t reach his destination all in one go. His journey lasted his entire life. To make a long journey, we need patience, wisdom, and strength. We don’t journey alone. We journey with God. In our worship, God gives us what we need to make our journey to the next stage. God will show us the next step. So worship as you journey.