Written by Mark C. Pederson, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church
We end our time in the prophets with the final poem of the book of Isaiah. For a variety of reasons it has always been one of my favorites. Yes, I love food, so the fact that God’s promises comes to us in the symbol of a feast is perfect for me. And wine is involved. But that isn’t it either. It’s the cost. Anyone can make a feast—given enough time and money all of us could eventually turn out a feast fit for a king. But only God can make a feast out of nothing.
Many of us are in the midst of our feasting season. It starts with the Thanksgiving meal (or meals) continues on to office and work gatherings, followed by Christmas celebrations and continues on into New Years Eve. But there are costs. Even for feasts where we are the invited guests, there are costs. And all of these celebrations may leave us full, but not fulfilled. Our appetites are temporarily satiated, but our hunger remains.
Today’s text comes to the people who are in exhile. But God is doing a new thing. The people of God have been in exile for two or three generations—it was their grandparents and great grandparents who were hauled off to Babylon. Have you ever noticed what tends to happen to 3rd generation immigrants? They become a part of the prevalent culture. The same is true to the audience of 2nd Isaiah. It is pretty clear not many of these folks will be returning to Israel. Why would they?
Israel is a wreck. There is no city. Very few people are working the fields around the city. There is no government, no services, or order. And yet God has a plan for whatever remnant should choose to take up the call. And it will not turn out as they planned, it will turn out much, much better than they can even imagine.
Our Saturday morning breakfast is a live picture of this text being lived out in our own midst. All are fed with dignity and respect. They are fed good food filled with fat things (read that bacon!) And there is no cost. It is a feast which is much more satisfying to me than the others I will attend this holiday season.
Quotes for the Week
“Someone feeling wronged is like someone feeling thirsty. Don’t tell them they aren’t. Sit with them and have a drink.”
― Lemony Snicket
“A person’s needs are met, and his appetite subsides. A person’s wantsare met, and his thirst swells greedily without end.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich,
Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. Pope Francis, Evangelii Guadium
Lesson Isaiah 55:1-11 (The Message)
1-5 “Hey there! All who are thirsty,
come to the water!
Are you penniless?
Come anyway—buy and eat!
Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.
Buy without money—everything’s free!
Why do you spend your money on junk food,
your hard-earned cash on cotton candy?
Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best,
fill yourself with only the finest.
Pay attention, come close now,
listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words.
I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you,
the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love.
I set him up as a witness to the nations,
made him a prince and leader of the nations,
And now I’m doing it to you:
You’ll summon nations you’ve never heard of,
and nations who’ve never heard of you
will come running to you
Because of me, your God,
because The Holy of Israel has honored you.”
6-7 Seek God while he’s here to be found,
pray to him while he’s close at hand.
Let the wicked abandon their way of life
and the evil their way of thinking.
Let them come back to God, who is merciful,
come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.
8-11 “I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.
Questions for the Week
When was the last time you were surprised by how well something turned out?
What is a feast that stands out in your mind? Why was it special to you?