Friday, August 01, 2008

To Help You Prepare for Worship on Sunday, August 3, 2008

[Most weeks, I try to publish at least one post dealing with the appointed Bible lessons for the upcoming Sunday. My hope is that I can at least help the people of the parish I serve as pastor, Saint Matthew Lutheran Church in Logan, Ohio, to prepare for worship. Others may find these explorations helpful because we use the same Bible lessons used by most other North American Christians each Sunday.]

This Sunday's Bible Lessons:
Isaiah 55:1-5
Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:13-21

The Prayer of the Day:
Glorious God, your generosity waters the world with goodness, and you cover creation with abundance. Awaken in us a hunger for the food that satisfies both body and spirit, and with this food fill all the starving world; through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Take a Look at...
(1) The brief comments of Lutheran Old Testament scholar Ralph W. Klein on Isaiah 55:1-5:
  • The opening two verses of this pericope are an invitation by Yahweh to a free divine banquet. As divine king, Yahweh imitates earthly kings at their inaugurations.
  • The passage is filled with irony. Those who are hungry and thirsty are invited to "buy" without money and without price. People spend money and work hard for that which does not benefit them. Christian preachers may wish to refer to the free banquet offered in the Eucharist.
  • Verses 3-5 ring the changes on the old promises to David (cf. 2 Samuel 7). God promises to make with "you," that is, the whole community an everlasting covenant, the sure promises to David. Hence the covenant is democratized. What had formerly been promised to David and his dynasty is now promised to everyone. This is a good example of a hermeneutical application, where the prophet takes "what was once meant" and shows what it might mean in his time. Strictly speaking, there is no messianic hope in Second Isaiah, and the only messiah mentioned is Cyrus the Persian (Isa 45:1).
  • Just as David ruled nations, so the people are promised that the nations will acknowledge them. The guarantor of this promise is Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel.
  • The gospel for the day is Matthew 14:13-21, the (free) feeding of the 5,000.
(2) The even briefer comments of Anglican Chris Haslam on Psalm 145, here.

(3) The extensive comments on the Roman text by another Anglican who, unlike Canadian Haslam is from Australia, Bryan Findlayson, can be found here.

(4) Here is a sermon on the Gospel lesson from Matthew by the wonderful Methodist bishop and preacher, William Willimon, whose books and other writing have been inspiring me for more than twenty years.

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