In the Lectionary

June 14, Ordinary 11 (Genesis 18:1–15, 21:1–7)

Sarah wasn’t the first member of her household to laugh at God.

The Lord visits Abraham, and Sarah overhears. The two offer very different responses.

Abraham springs into action. His speech and action indicate the posture of a servant, precisely how the patriarch identifies himself in relationship to his “lord.” Three times Abraham scurries—out of the tent, back into the tent, and out to the herd before he returns with a meal. The great patriarch bows when his guests arrive, then stands at attention while they eat. When these visitors pass on to Sodom they will receive no such hospitality, a link explicitly established by our storyteller (18:16–33).

Sarah responds differently. When the Lord promises Abraham a son in a year’s time, Sarah, concealed in the tent, laughs to herself—a little too loudly. The Lord calls Abraham to account for Sarah’s behavior. It is unclear whether Sarah has emerged into public view, but she speaks for herself and denies her laughter.