10th Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 16) (Year A - Lutheran Service Book readings)
Saturday, August 20, and Sunday, August 21, 2011
The following are my notes from this weekend’s sermon. I didn’t write out a full manuscript for this sermon.
So the other day we were up at Betty Russell Playground just over here in the neighborhood. The boys had their bikes, and Jude, our five-year old, decided to try out his bike on the skatepark ramps. We unfortunately he had a bit of a crash. I saw it happen, so I walked over to check on him. He was laying on the ground, crying, with a small scrape on his elbow. Jude was hurt, but what he was really upset about, what was making him cry and yell was that I hadn’t run to him. I had walked. It upset Jude that I hadn’t run over as soon as he crashed. I had walked.
Well, we got Jude’s scrap patched up with a Band-Aid, and Jude went back to playing and riding his bike—although not on the ramps anymore. But he said a few times to me, “Daddy, you should’ve run.” I had walked. That’s what upset Jude the most.
And that’s what can upset us the most about God, too. Why doesn’t He run? Why doesn’t He bring His righteousness and salvation into our lives RIGHT NOW? I mean, the reading from Isaiah 51 today says, “My righteousness draws near speedily.” Speedily? It doesn’t seem very speedy to me. Most of the time it feels as if we’ve just crashed our bike, we’re laying on the ground scraped up and bleeding, and God is walking, God is walking—not running—God is taking His time in coming to help us.
• Want God to run
• Isaiah 51:5: “My righteousness draws near speedily.”
• It sounds like God is running, should be running so fast that we’d never even hit the ground
• Instead, it seems like God is walking, God is taking His time, and it seems like He’ll never get here, never show up in time to help us
• Essentially, we’re here sprawled out on the ground—crash-landed from the various things that plague us in this life.
• We look over to God, sees God standing there, and we believe that He promises to come lift us up.
• BUT God still seems distant. God still seems like a distant watcher. God might be moving toward us, but boy, He’s moving slow.
• Yet, there’s this promise there in Isaiah 51, there’s this promise that God will move, God will show up, God will bring His righteousness and salvation into our lives. God will act. That’s really the promise in Isaiah 51.
• It’s not so much a promise that He will always act immediately.
• It’s a promise that He will act, that He is acting, that He is doing what needs to be done for our good, for our salvation.
• Think about it this way: in Isaiah 51 when God says that His righteousness draws near speedily, He also points us to remember that we descend from Abraham and Sarah. By faith, we are descendants of Abraham and Sarah.
• Abraham and Sarah never got to experience God’s promise completely.
• Sarah was barren, couldn’t have children, and Abraham and Sarah were old, but God promised that they would have a child. God promised that He would make Abraham into a great nation, make Abraham’s family as numerous as the stars.
• But Abraham and Sarah only got to see the one son, Isaac. They only got to see God’s promise start to take shape. God didn’t snap His finger and instantly give Abraham an incredibly huge family. God gave Abraham one child who had another child who had another child until the people of Israel became a great nation many generations later.
• In Abraham and Sarah’s view, it probably looked like God was walking. God wasn’t running. They were traveling around based on what God said, traveling around based on God’s promises, but they couldn’t really see how God was going to make it all happen.
• Yet, what they believed was that God was acting. They believed that God would move from His spot. They believed that God wouldn’t leave them alone. They believed that God would come and lift them up.
• This is the faith we have. This is the rock from which we have been cut. We’re of the same faith as Abraham and Sarah. We’ve got faith that God will move, that God will come to our aid.
• And God did act. After many generations, generations waiting for the promise to be fulfilled, God came walking in. God walked the Earth. God came in the person of Jesus. Jesus came and walked among us, came and lived and died and rose again. Here was God coming to our side. Here was God bringing the help we desperately needed as we laid sprawled out on the sidewalk. Here was the Band-Aid, the binding up of our wounds.
• For generations it may have seemed like God wasn’t moving, like God wasn’t taking notice of the predicament of the people.
• But then He acted, He sent Jesus
• Our predicament was permanent exile, death forever
• Jesus came and conquered death
• Jesus came and took the punishment for our sins
• Jesus came and gave us the promise of eternal life
• God had acted
• But now, now that we have faith in Jesus,
• Now maybe we’re back to wondering where God is, wondering why God isn’t running to our side when things aren’t going well—
• When your life gets stressed out, when you face hardships, when you crash, when you’re sprawled out on the ground, why is God just standing there? Why is God walking? Why isn’t He running?
• Stock market falls—advice: ride it out
• I don’t have much faith in the stock market
• I have faith that God will provide for me
• BUT right now, when I look at our savings, looks like God is walking, not running
• Yet the promise in Isaiah 51 is that He is going to act, He is able to act, He is going to act according to His will and for our salvation. We’ve got faith that God will move, that God will come to our aid.
• It may appear that God is standing still
• It may seem like God is walking when He should be running
• It may seem like God is distant when we need Him close
• But the promise of Isaiah 51 is that He is very much on the move, He is acting, He is bringing about His righteousness and salvation in the world and in our lives
• He brought faith in Jesus into our hearts, and He’ll bring that ultimate promise of eternal life to us also
• You are descendants of Abraham and Sarah
• Perhaps you’re only seeing one part of the promise
• Hard to believe that God is moving to help you when you can’t see the whole promise being fulfilled
• But God’s promise in Isaiah 51 is for you:
• The law will go out from me;
my justice will become a light to the nations.
My righteousness draws near speedily,
my salvation is on the way,
and my arm will bring justice to the nations.
My salvation will last forever,
my righteousness will never fail.
• Maybe that’s hard to see because you’re so aware that you’ve crash-landed, you’re sprawled out on the ground
• But God is moving—in His time, in His way—God is moving to come to your aid, to come lift you up, to come bind up your wounds.
• God’s moving in the person of Jesus Christ today
• God’s moving to bring you forgiveness for your sins
• God’s moving to bring you faith in your heart
• God’s moving to support you and comfort you
• God’s moving to strengthen you
• God’s moving to lift you up when you fall
• God’s moving, His righteousness draws near speedily