Watching for the Morning of February 28, 2016
The Third Sunday in Lent
Repentance, turning and showing allegiance to God, is the center of the readings this coming Sunday.
The prophet cries out in the marketplace like a merchant hawking his wares – except the prophet is offering food for free, the rich fare of God’s word. The promise once spoken to David of an everlasting covenant is extended to all the people and they are invited to return to God who will forgive – for his ways are higher than our ways.
Paul warns his congregation to watch out lest they fall and reminds them that those who passed through the Red Sea turned from God and perished in the desert.
And Jesus calls for his hearers to take heed lest they perish like the Galileans slaughtered by the Romans or those who were crushed beneath broken walls. God is looking for fruit like a landowner from his fig tree and the days for repentance are growing short.
It is the psalmist who provides the counterpoint, yearning to see God, yearning to stand in God’s presence in the sanctuary, finding God’s steadfast love better than life.
We are not used to such cries of urgency. We imagine there is always time to return home to God. But that is not the nature of things. The chance to do mercy comes and goes and can’t be reclaimed if missed. Now is the time to turn and show allegiance to the kingdom of God. Now is the time to live God’s mercy and grace.
This week we are continuing our congregation’s Lenten series rooted in the Apostles’ Creed. Last Sunday centered on a phrase in Luther’s Small Catechism “He has purchased and freed me from all sins.” This week we come to the third article of the creed and the line from the Catechism: “He has called me through the Gospel.”
There are two accents in this line: first, that we are called. We are summoned. God is not the goal of our spiritual search; God is the one who speaks, who encounters us, who calls us to paths untrod. Secondly, it is the word of grace that beckons us, the gospel, the news from the battlefield that our defender’s forces have been victorious and our city delivered: Death is dead and Life summons us to joy. The author of life, the redeemer, the sanctifier, bids us come and dance the holy dance.
The Prayer for February 28, 2016
In the mystery of your love, O God,
you have called us by your word of grace
to lives that are holy and true.
Grant us ears ever open and hearts ever willing to hear your voice,
that your word may bear fruit in our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
The Texts for February 28, 2016
First Reading: Isaiah 55:1-9
“Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!” – The prophet calls out in the marketplace like a merchant hawking his wares – only the prophet’s food is free.
Psalmody: Psalm 63:1-8
“O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land” – The poet yearns for, and gives expression to, his intimate communion with God.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
“No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength.” – Paul warns the congregation in Corinth to resist the temptations before them, citing the example of Israel in the wilderness when the rebellious perished without reaching the Promised Land.
Gospel: Luke 13:1-9
“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none.” – Jesus is challenged to declare himself for or against Rome when the rumor of a slaughter in the temple is put to him. He deftly turns the question back on his challengers, summoning all to turn and show allegiance to the reign of God. With the parable of the fig tree he challenges the Jerusalem leadership and warns that the time for repentance is short.
Called: Though Sunday takes us to the next section of the creed, our daily devotions during Lent are still reflecting on the meaning of the second article of the creed and our theme for week 2: “He has purchased and freed me from all sins.” We invite you to join us at the Lent website or through our congregation website.