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Sermons SERMON

SERMON

+ Lectionary 29 A (Proper 24), Healing

TEXT: Isaiah 45:1-7

DATE: October 19, 2014

St. Paulís Lutheran Church, Dallas

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† What is it with those doors of bronze broken

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and bars of iron cut?

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Who is it that the Lord goes before to level mountains?

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And arms to subdue nations?

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† For what?

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And who is this Cyrus anyway?

 

Our first reading from Isaiah

is one of those texts

that going to Bible Study

helps us see and understand

in a whole new light.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† In fact, thatís what happened Wednesday evening

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† for those at this weekís study.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I could almost see light bulbs going on.

 

Because this is one of those texts

that brings with it a whole history and context,

and to not know that

makes this reading seem like so many words about nothing.

Just as the Bible Study folks on Wednesday said,

they had no idea what it meant

when they read it on their own beforehand.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† The Israelitesí southern kingdom, Judah,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and its capital city, Jerusalem,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† were sacked by the Babylonians,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and the city and the temple were destroyed in 587 BC.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† The leaders, both royal and holy,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† were shipped east into exile in Babylon.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And there they sat for generations.

 

But during that time,

the world-powerful Babylonians lost their dominance

and fell to the more powerful strength of the Persians,

who became the new world conquerors

under the Persian King Cyrus the Great.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And when Cyrus defeated the Babylonians

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† he released the Israelites in exile there

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to go back to their homeland.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And so, under the Persian King Cyrus,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† the Israelites returned and rebuilt

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Jerusalem and the temple.

 

It is Cyrus, the King of Persia,

whom God calls by name,

guides to conquer the enemies of Israel,

chooses as their savior,

and anoints as his messiah,

even though Cyrus doesnít even know this God.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Which was an amazing thing to the Israelites then.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And is to us now, too,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† when you realize this is modern day Iran defeating Iraq,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and the king of Iran

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† is anointed by the God of Israel

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to be their savior.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† That is precisely what this reading is about.

 

And the point is that this God of Israel Ė

even during this time and in this region

where every nation and tribe has its own god Ė

this God of Israel is really the God of all,

in total power over all,

the creator of all that is

and the one in control of all that is.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And if this God

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† wants to use outsiders to save,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† if this God wants to use bad situations for good,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† if this God wants to reverse sin, evil,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† suffering, and death

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to forgive, reconcile, heal and raise,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† then this God,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† the God of Israel and all creation,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† has the power, the ability, and every right to do it.

 

But if this God would name, choose, and anoint

this king of Persia as his savior for Israel,

what else might this God do?

Whom else might this God choose to use?

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Well, we know, donít we,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† the extreme measures this God might use

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to save his chosen people,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to use bad situations for good,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to bring forgiveness, reconciliation,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† healing and life to his loved and anointed people.

 

This God would go so far

as to take on human flesh, himself,

sending his beloved Son to us as one of us

to love us to death

and die for our life.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Even more alien than calling on a Persian, or Irani,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† God would come himself in his Word in flesh,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† as the beloved and anointed Son

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to save us, his people.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† To forgive us and to reconcile us to himself,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to heal us and to raise us to eternal life.

 

God would use bad situations for good

by turning the Roman instrument

for torturous and shameful execution Ė

the cross of crucifixion Ė

into the sign of life and salvation for us.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And turning disease and sickness and suffering and pain

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† into the opportunity for the touch and hugs,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† listening, prayer and presence

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† of his beloved people for one another.

 

And hereís the twist to that.

We are the ones

in need of healing and forgiveness

and reconciliation and life.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Healing of body and mind, and heart and spirit.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Forgiveness from sin and shame and guilt.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Reconciliation in our relationships

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† with one another and with our Lord.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And life in wholeness and peace and well-being.

 

And in our need,

this God who goes so far for us,

gives us these things in Christís suffering, death and resurrection,

in the Holy Spirit of God poured out on us,

in the laying on of hands and anointing with oil,

in the prayers of the people,

in the mutual consolation, counsel, and care of the community,

and in the skills, craft, and compassion

of physicians, nurses, counselors, therapists,

scientists, and researchers.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† We are the ones in need.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But we are also the ones named, chosen, and anointed,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† like the Persian King Cyrus,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to be Godís word and presence,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† healing and forgiveness,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† reconciliation and life

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to one another and all Godís people,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and to the whole creation God has made.

 

While you may not think

youíre a prime candidate for Godís saving work for others,

neither did Cyrus, who didnít even know God,

yet he was named, chosen, and anointed

to be Godís saving power for the Israelites.

In baptism, you are named, chosen and anointed, too.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Itís not always about big wars

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and conquering the enemy powers

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† like it was for Cyrus.

 

More often, itís more like hugs and words of encouragement,

caring touches and careful listening,

comforting prayer shawls,

simple prayers and quiet presence.

That is Godís powerful healing for others, too.

Those are the things you are named, chosen, an anointed to do.

And those are the things you do so well.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Surely the God who would name, choose, and anoint

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† the Persian King Cyrus to be the savior of Israel,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† who would use bad situations for good,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and reverse sin, evil, suffering, and death

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to forgive, reconcile, heal and raise Ė

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† surely, this God could use your small, simple gestures

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† for healing.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Of one another and the world.

 

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

 


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