Showing Promise III – At the mercy of God

Sermon, Lent 3C

Isaiah 55:1-10 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.http://stpetri.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/20160228_message.mp33 Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. 4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander of the peoples. 5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.”6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

Friends, there is nothing quite like a free meal in good company: Dinner at home with friends; dinner out with friends, picnic in the park with family….. Wedding receptions are good. You get lots of really nice food on the house!

To partake of a meal that has been lovingly and thoughtfully prepared by someone else – just for you is such an act of grace and so great to receive. A meal prepared and served out of love is a sign of God’s mercy. All you can do as the one receiving the meal is receive, eat, drink and thanks. That is why we have always taught our kids to say thanks to whoever has cooked dinner – whatever it is – even if it contains brussel sprouts or zucchini! And to their credit, the kids do say thank you a lot.

Friend, we want to receive the finest of meals prepared by the most costly sacrifice – all out of sheer mercy and kindness today – simply receive, eat, drink and thank and be full and satisfied for the journey…

What a beautiful word from Isaiah about a free meal of God – and all the more beautiful given that it is spoken in that terrible time of exile God’s people went through. In the most difficult of times when the people are suffering the consequences of their mistrust of the Lord’s goodness and love for them, and their breaking of the covenant relationship he made with and for them, these joyful, artistic and hope-filled words are spoken.

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!

God does seem to be into giving good gifts and good meals for people who have no claim to them. Through the prophet, Isaiah, God calls out to anyone in earshot, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters”. God invites thirsty people in for a satisfying drink of the best water.

God says, “Come, you who can’t afford it, come and eat with me for free”. God’s meal is one that cannot be paid for by us – he’s paid for it all. No point in trying to buy our way in – it’s by invitation only and God doesn’t seem to be choosy about who comes in.

2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy?

With the invitation to share in table fellowship with him and his people comes a question: “Why spend your money on things that are not bread and why work hard on things that don’t really satisfy in the end? It’s a good question for busy people.

• Why am I so busy? • What am I actually doing and is what I am giving my time, energy and mind to something that really revives my soul and has eternal significance in the overall scheme of life? • Who am I relying on for my version of “really living” and why is my version of “really living” and has it much to do with the Call of Jesus and the mission of Jesus? o Am I really more about more things, getting my way more, being noticed more, seeking and finding illusive approval from peers or parents or children, getting myself out of the mess, mastering things so I can do a better job of it, working harder to make it work and achieve the goals…….?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.

The Lord says that as we participate in his banquet of choice cuisine, our “souls will delight in the richest fare”. He will freely give us full and real life!

So how do we say yes to God’s generous invitation? How do we share in his banquet? Well, first, quite strangely, with our ears.

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

As God gives the invitation to us he says “Give ear to me – Listen to me”. Ah, so refreshment for our dry and thirsty spirits, our damaged hearts, and our anxious minds comes from listening with our heart to the Word of the Lord. By our listening to his voice we share in his feast and we are revived.

Not only is our inner life revived and refreshed by God’s word but our life together is also renewed…

I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.

That covenant of promised presence, protection, forgiveness and life is now not only for a king and his family – but for people on the outer, people who are not of royal blood, people who have rejected the Lord, people who don’t know the history, people who are thirsty and hungry for real peace.

That is you and I. Friends, the Lord made an agreement with King David that there would one day come a new David, a new king who would begin a new era, a new family, a new banquet and he would be a suffering king, a servant king who would serve the world with his own life. He would take on all our thirst, our ignorance, our lack of focus, our blindness, our waywardness and replace them with meaning, purpose, focus, understanding, wisdom and confidence to live this life we have been given – not for ourselves, but always for others.

The king has come and the king has suffered it all and the king has died. But the king did not stay dead and he did not stay alone in his victory over all that binds us to serving ourselves. No, King Jesus served us with a love that no one had ever seen – God the creator of the universe serving his wayward creation.

The banquet has begun and we have been included when we were baptized in the water by the power of the Word. There God gave us a pass into his party. There God made us fit for his holy presence where there is love and joy and peace and understanding.

Your place at his table is set for you, friend. The Word calls you everyday to come and drink in the Lord’s life-giving word and enjoy life lived in the presence of Jesus your Saviour, rather than living life in your own company doing your own thing.

The Lord has a banquet that is ongoing into eternity – the choice food is himself. His body and blood in bread and wine for life and forgiveness and resurrection of wayward or empty spirits.

This holy meal of Jesus the crucified and resurrected One is what keeps us in the covenant of grace with each other and the Lord. As we eat and drink together in his presence we proclaim his death and resurrection to everyone and he renews us in his grace and love over and over again.

Friends, enjoy the free gift of life that you share in Christ. Receive more and more of this gift from the Lord by receiving his Word into your heart and let his Word shape your day and give it away as freely as you can.

As we come and eat and drink with the Lord and share his food of love and forgiveness around, our hearts will be revived, life will have focus, the day will have purpose, the future will be full of faith and we will have understanding and joy and we will live knowing that whether we live or die we live to the Lord and that what we spend our time and effort doing will be of eternal value to others and to God.

Seek the Lord were he may be found, Call on him while he is near, Let the wicked forsake their ways Let the evil person turn to the Lord And the Lord will have mercy on that person For he freely pardons. (Isaiah 55:6-7)

CONVERSATION STARTERS

Slowly listen/read the Isaiah 55 text picturing yourself in a lonely place that is hot and where food is scarce. Let the words wash over you like the lapping waves on a quiet deserted beach.

What particular images, sentences, words stick out to you. Share them….

  1. Think about you current situation – your relationships, work, plans for the week/year, and etc and notice what particular sentence/words/image hits you at the moment. Share them…..

How do you understand this “covenant” word?

  1. Share what you have understood so far – think of Abraham in Genesis 12 and then God’s people with Moses at Mount Sinai in Exodus 20 and the like.

  2. Then think about Jesus and the ‘new covenant’ we often speak of – especially in the words we use at Holy Communion….”this is my blood of the ‘new covenant’, shed for you…”

The telling thing about covenant in the Bible is that the covenant God makes in various places and about various things is not like a covenant that two nations or people might make.

If you and I make a covenant with each other, it is two equal parties coming to an agreement about how we are going to treat each other. This would be like marriage, where two equal parties promise themselves to each other for life.

But when God makes his covenants/promises with his people it is all him! He just chooses Abraham. He just chooses to save Israel and give them everything and the covenant he makes is begin and powered and ended by him. It is not an agreement between two equal parties at all. It is God simply choosing and saving and loving and promises – and all out of sheer love for people.

  1. How does this work in your life as a Christian person who has already been included in God’s new covenant of grace, received by faith in Jesus Christ?

  2. How has God simply chosen you?

  3. How does he keep on letting you know that you are chosen and belong in his covenant community? Share you views on this……

  4. How is baptism God’s covenant with you?

  5. How is worship God’s covenant with all of us?

  6. How is Holy Communion the meal of the new covenant not of us keeping the Law but of God simply loving us unconditionally because and through Jesus?

PRAY (From hymn 346) Forth in your name, O Lord, we go Our daily work to pursue You, only you, we resolve to know In all I think and speak and do.

Give me to bear your easy yoke And every moment watch and pray And still to things eternal look And hasten to your glorious day.

#covenant #Isaiah55110 #newcovenant #banquet #promise #lent3C

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