Updated: Oct 17
"From the Pulpit" - reflections on the weekly texts, from Pastor Greg at Living Lord Lutheran Church in Vero Beach, FL
1Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. 2He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. 3And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? 5And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. 6I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry!
PSALM: Psalm 80:7-15
Restore us, O | God of hosts; let your face shine upon us, and we | shall be saved. 8You have brought a vine | out of Egypt; you cast out the nations and | planted it. 9You cleared the | ground for it; it took root and | filled the land. 10The mountains were covered | by its shadow and the towering cedar trees | by its boughs. 11You stretched out its tendrils | to the sea and its branches | to the river. 12Why have you broken | down its wall, so that all who pass by pluck | off its grapes? 13The wild boar of the forest has | ravaged it, and the beasts of the field have | grazed upon it. 14Turn now, O | God of hosts, look | down from heaven; 15behold and | tend this vine; preserve what your right | hand has planted.
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the LORD Jesus Christ.
Well, I'll be starting my message this week with a four letter word. What, you say!? In church!? And you know I NEVER use four letter words, don't you? Just kidding.
Anyhow, for those faint of heart, fear not. It's completely innocent. BUT, you'll have to be in church to hear it. Anyhow, if you want a clue, read these first two readings carefully and see if you can pick up on what it might be.
These readings, along with our gospel, are somewhat depressing. They depict a God who at creation, took a blank canvas, and made this incredible thing we call creation/earth/the world. At least the world we know and were born into. And because of our hard hearted nature, our sin, our wanting to BE God ourselves, succeed in completely (I want to say ruined, but that's maybe a little strong) messed up this beautiful canvas that God created. Think hatred, murder, selfishness, envy, and more. You know the list. All the things that separate us from God, and that help to contribute to the mess we find ourselves in. I found myself this week looking again at Luther's Large Catechism on the Ten Commandments. Check it out maybe for yourself.
The prophet Isaiah laments the ways in which his people (and we) have undone so much of what God, the artist with the blank canvas, if you will, has done. Built this beautiful vineyard on a hill, where it could produce ripe, juicy fruit (us.) Put a watchtower over it to protect it. And what did we do? We yielded sour grapes - ruined the vineyard (this heavenly place called earth/creation.) And now God is taking out God's vengeance on us, tearing down the walls that protected it, crushing the vines themselves. God is upset, angry, and I'm sure, brokenhearted at the way Israel/we treat what God had so lovingly created.
Anyhow, the Psalmist speaks for all of us when he writes, "Restore us O God, let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved." Pleading to God, aware of the ways Israel has broken the heart of God, feeling lost maybe, the Psalmist longs for God to come and save them, admitting that they, and all of humanity have truly undone what good things God has created for humanity. What God had created on that blank canvas at creation.
As you look around today, can't you still see these same signs of putting the wrecking ball to creation? Our influence on climate change. Unevenly distributed resources of food, water, energy, and more. Justice, not for all, but for the well-connected. And more. You no doubt have your own list here.
And so, in some way, as I read these texts, I feel as though the prophet Isaiah, a mouthpiece for God, and the Psalmist, are speaking directly to ME. And it hurts, because I know that all of these things are true about me, and us. They are a reflection of us as a people of God.
We need a savior! And so, the good news. For God so loved the world... Jesus comes to us as a savior, and models what justice is like. Turns the tables on the shenanigans going on in the temple. Heals the sick. Raises the dead. Restores the sick and lame, the aging, women and children, to their communities. In Jesus alone, we see the love of God come among us, and it is breathtaking in its scope, its magnitude. In Jesus, God has chosen to once and for all, wash away the sins of the world, and restore us to the original canvas that God had in mind at creation. Are we "there" yet? Hardly. But in Christ, we get a foretaste of that great feast to come. And I can't wait! Amen.
So, did you guess the four letter word I'm going to be using at the start of my message?
Hope to see you all at worship!
"God Will Take Care of You"
"The Lord of the Dance"