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18th Sunday after Pentecost, 10/12/2014

Sermon on Isaiah 25:1-9, by Amy C. Schifrin

 


O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name;
for thou hast done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.For thou hast made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin;
the palace of aliens is a city no more,
 it will never be rebuilt.Therefore strong peoples will glorify thee;
cities of ruthless nations will fear thee.For thou hast been a stronghold to the poor,
a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
for the blast of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,like heat in a dry place.
Thou dost subdue the noise of the aliens; as heat by the shade of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is stilled.
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined. And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation."

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

And he will wipe every tear from their eyes. And he will wipe every tear from their eyes. John on Patmos knew his Scripture. In his exile on that rocky island he remembered the promise Isaiah had spoken long ago to the faithful who had been banished from their homes and from their families. He remembered the words of the prophet and he gave them again to his community who were suffering the pangs of persecution, separation, and death.

In congregation after congregation, the church through the centuries has followed John's pattern so that the promises of the One Eternal God would sound against all that leads to death. On the day of burial for any one of the baptized, whether beloved or cranky, generations of pastors have run to these words, for there are none sweeter. And then on the day of remembrance of all who have entered the church triumphant these words come to us again as in a holy refrain, bringing the voices of our loved ones to sound in our beating hearts. He will swallow up death forever, and the LORD God will wipe tears away from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth.

The LORD has spoken. Six centuries before the birth of Christ, he spoke through the mouth of Isaiah, so that those who been forced into exile would know to whom they belonged: O Lord, thou art my God. My God. Like Thomas reaching out to touch the hands and side of the Risen Lord, My Lord and my God, Isaiah gives to those who thought that every thing was lost, a word of hope. A word that tells to whom they still belong: to the One who made the heavens and the earth. They still belong to One who brings breath into every living being. They still belong to the One who has given them throats to shout and lips to sing, O Lord, thou art my God, I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name;
for thou hast done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

The LORD God has spoken his promise for the obedient and for the recalcitrant, for the faithful and for the fugitive, for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and for those who stole from the markets of their earthly lords so that their children would be fed. The promise is for all on that Holy Mountain, for at this feast, even ancient foes will be reconciled in the sweetness that comes from one loaf broken, one life shared, one beautiful table where mercy flows like oil upon the beard of Aaron.

To a desperate and starving people, Isaiah proclaims, You will be fed a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined. When death and destruction pursues them, he declares that those who trust in their own might will fall,
cities of ruthless nations will [be in]fear. The ruthless will huff and puff, but they will not blow this house down. For those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. By the words of the prophet, God opens wide a new future for his people, and it is the future for which all the world has been waiting. In our deepest fears and in our most painful losses he comes to us and will wipe away our tears.

He speaks to us of a plan formed before time, of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ... [who] chose us in him before the foundation of the world; of a promise of a feast for all nations and all peoples, I am the living bread which comes down from heaven; A promise of the end of death, O Death where is thy victory, O Death where is thy sting? He speaks to us of the fullness of salvation, Lo, This is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.

And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. The children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are his. Of that there is no doubt, but so are all the children of this earth. Israel will announce the banquet he is preparing for them, so that out of the valleys that lie deep in those shadows, the peoples of this world will be drawn up that Holy Mountain, drawn up as they look to this Radiant One who is the author and giver of all life, drawn up into the Holy City in all it's heavenly splendor. That is his eternal promise. That is what he has spoken.

For he will restore and replenish, he will protect and he will defend, a bulwark...to still the enemy and the avenger. The Assyrians will fall, as will Egypt and Babylon and every tyrannical power that thinks it is God. Every despot that deals in death will come see his power meet its end. And just knowing that now, just tasting it now, just hearing it now, like a cascade of fresh spring water rushing down a mountain, the children of God will all become prophets...prophets as they receive the Lord's body into their own- hearts afire, singing all the way to the altar Holy, Holy, Holy LORD God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Defying not only the diseases and cruelties that lead to death, but defying death itself, for as you pray and sing and taste and see, you are the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of [you, and you] shall not be moved. The song of the ruthless is stilled in the hearts of the faithful.

Would that all the LORD's children were prophets and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them. He has done so, so that we, his children, baptized and sealed in the Spirit's love, would live in hope. By calling you his own, he is speaking your life into the world, so that in water and in word, in bread and in the finest of wines he will keep on speaking, until all the world is fed at his eternal and ever-joyous feast. Amen.



The Rev. Dr. Amy C. Schifrin

E-Mail: aschifrin@tsm.edu

Bemerkung:
Dr. Schifrin is President, North American Lutheran Seminary;
Associate Professor of Liturgy and Homiletics,
Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge, PA


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