Sermon Introduction –
We are lucky that God’s ways are not our ways. We can try to follow God’s way, but we’ll never be as patient, loving, just, or forgiving as God. We’re more like the land owner who’s ready to cut down the tree that isn’t bearing fruit. Fortunately, God the patient gardener is always ready to give us one more chance. Still, we need to reach out and take that chance…
Introduction to this week’s readings –
The warnings are plentiful and blunt on the third Sunday in Lent. Cut it out or get cut down! The warnings are accompanied by God’s invitation to attentiveness: “Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.” The landowner’s ultimatum is forestalled by the gardener’s readiness to till the ground one more year. That is good news for all of us. Thanks be to God!
Reading: Isaiah 55:6-9 (click for reading)
Introduction to reading: To those who have experienced long years in exile, the return to their homeland is a celebration of abundant life. God calls them into an everlasting covenant of love. Those who return to God will enjoy new life and forgiveness, because God’s ways are not our ways.
Reading: Psalm 63:1-8 (click for reading)
Introduction to reading: O God, eagerly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you. (Ps. 63:1)
Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 (click for reading)
Introduction to reading: Paul uses images from Hebrew Scriptures and prophecy to speak the truth of Jesus Christ: He is our rock, our water, our food, and our drink. Christ is the living sign of God’s faithfulness.
Reading: Luke 13:1-9 (click for reading)
Introduction to reading: Asked about current tragic events, Jesus turns a lesson about whether suffering is deserved into a hard call to obedience. He then tells a parable that holds out hope that the timeline for ultimate judgment will be tempered by patience.