Sunday, October 02, 2011

Isaiah 5:1-7 - “Unforgettable”

16th Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 22) (A)
Sunday, October 2, 2011

• Roll out cart with CD player on it.

• Isaiah 5:1-7 is a love song.
• It’s God’s love song for His people.

• The owner did everything for that vineyard
• He put the vineyard on a hill to get good sunlight
• He dug and broke up the ground
• He cleared the stones
• He planted the best vines
• He set up the wine press, prepared for harvest
• He built a watchtower to protect it
• The owner doing everything for the vineyard, it’s a way of saying how much God has done for His people.
• It’s God’s love song for His people.

• Play “Unforgettable” which begins to skip part way in
• After it skips a couple of times, remove CD
• Smash CD with hammer

• Isaiah 5:1-7 is a love song smashed to bits

• Owner did everything he could for the vineyard
• And what does he get?
• Bad fruit
• Literally, he gets stinking, rotten grapes

• God did everything he could to love His people
• Stinking, rotten actions

• Owner - judgment on the vineyard
• Take away all of the protection and care

• God - judgment on the people
• Send them into exile

• When the people first heard Isaiah’s words,
• Probably thought he was talking about Israel, northern kingdom, already taken over
• Isaiah, though, reveals that he’s talking about Jerusalem and Judah, southern kingdom, the people who were probably confident in themselves
• Judah and Jerusalem will be lost, smashed to bits, the end of the love song

• We’d like to think, too, that God’s judgment is going to fall on someone else, those other people, those people who aren’t here
• Yet, God’s judgment comes on our sin, too
• His love song for us, smashed to bits, because we’re sinners
• Our sin produces stinking, rotten grapes
• God looks to see if our faith produces justice, produces right actions
• —but it only produces riots and bloodshed
• God looks to see if our faith produces righteousness, produces compassion
• —but it only produces complaints

• We stand accused
• We’re stinking, rotten grapes, too
• Our actions produce riots and complaints
• Our actions produce the opposite of what God intends

• Our sins hurt other people
• We hurt others by our actions and our lack of action
• We’re very far away from that love song God meant to sing about us.

• We need God to revive the love song.
• We need God to restore the broken love song
• We need God to repair the vineyard
• Take out another CD, play “Unforgettable”
• This CD plays the song without skipping

• Jesus Christ is the love song restored
• Jesus Christ has come to repair the vineyard
• Jesus Christ was sent to restore God’s people

• The cross and resurrection is all about restoring the love song, repairing the vineyard, restoring God’s people
• We may have sinned, we may have caused riots instead of right, we may have caused complaints instead of compassion
• But through the power of the cross, through the triumph of the resurrection, there is forgiveness for our sins, forgiveness for our stinking, rotten grapes

• And with that love song playing in the background, what does God work in us, work in our lives?
• Justice and righteousness
• Right actions and compassion
• Changes our hearts, changes our actions to reflect His love for all people
• Remember, though, it’s not your actions that restore the love song
• It’s God’s action; it’s Jesus Christ that restores the love song, that repairs the vineyard, that restores His ways in your heart and life

• One of the difficulties in preaching on this text is that you are not Jerusalem and Judah, you are not smug in your sin, you are not self-confident in your unrighteous, unjust actions
• Isaiah was preaching to a people who were refusing to listen to God’s Word, but here you are, ready to listen, having already confessed your sin
• Instead, you are more like the person in Isaiah’s audience, the person who lingers after everyone leaves
• Everyone else goes away grumbling, shaking their fists at Isaiah, telling Isaiah he’s got no right to speak to them that way
• Yet, you linger, you stay behind, you approach the prophet, you say,
• “What do I do? I know I have sinned. I know I have angered the Lord. I know my actions are stinking, rotten grapes.”

• In that moment, I imagine Isaiah whispering the Gospel, the Good News that you need to hear
• I imagine Isaiah singing the love song again
• I imagine Isaiah speaking about restoration
• I imagine Isaiah speaking the words he’d later proclaim, where God says:
• 57:17 I was enraged by his sinful greed;
I punished him, and hid my face in anger,
yet he kept on in his willful ways.
18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will guide him and restore comfort to him,
19 creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.

• So today as you hear the Lord reminds us that He smashes the love song to bits, tears down the vineyard, brings judgment on our sin
• Remember that you have also pulled the prophet aside
• Pulled him aside, come to hear the rest of the message
• You have come to the prophet, have come to God with tears and shaking voice and repentance
• And the Lord promises restoration of the love song
• Promises restoration through Jesus
• God was enraged by your sinful greed;
God punished you, and hid His face in anger,
yet you kept on in your willful ways.
God has seen you ways, but He will heal you;
God will guide you and restore comfort to you,
creating praise on the lips of the mourners, those who repent in the Church
• God will guide you and restore you
• God will sing the love song again