Sermon July 12, 2020

“Savior lead me least I stray,”

The Word of the Lord

Since the early days of human civilization farmers understood water as a source of life, essential to human beings as well as for plants, animals, and the living creatures of rivers and oceans.

They understood that there was a connection between clouds and rain, as well that there was a connection between rain or snow and the planting seasons of the earth.

Rain, then and now, even if it could be bothersome at times, was always welcomed for sprouting new life in parched lands and producing bountiful crops in fertile lands.

Isaiah understood quite well the life-bearing properties of water.  Writing about twenty six hundred years ago, (Chapter 55) Isaiah said that rain and snow would not return to heaven without “without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,” (V. 10) – A pretty good description for a pre-scientific theologian!

But Isaiah understood the “miracle” of water beyond its scientific understanding.  He understood that what God has to say about human affairs – both in public proclamations and in the secret halls of human souls – never goes to waste.  Like the life-giving water, the words of the Creator of Heavens and Earth have a similar life-giving quality.

“It is the same with my word – says the Lord.  I send it out, and it always produces fruit.  It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it,” (V. 11).

If you allow me to stretch out the words of Isaiah, both like the rain and the snow, sometimes what God would like to say to us – individually, as a group in the Church, or as in Isaiah’s times, to the nation – arrives at the “wrong” time.

It is interesting to note that often prophets were not welcome.  The powers that be did not care about anything that would cross their intentions – or would lay bare their true condition.  Even worse, what God had to say usually run against the “official story” proffered by the co-opted religious leaders of the day.

Not even Jesus was exempt of such “unwelcoming welcome!”  In the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus warns his disciples that theirs (and His!) was going to be a challenging mission.  Nothing new, Jesus said, “the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way,” (Matthew 5:12).  No one, then or even now, likes to hear someone speaking truth to power.

What I do find comforting in the words of Isaiah, as well as in the Parable of the Sower, our Gospel reading for today, is that we do not need to stress out trying to make people hear what God has to say.

For Isaiah, saying what he was asked to say – telling the powerful and mighty what God thought about their condition, their dealings, and their plans – was enough.  He did not need to make it happen.  The Word of the Lord would produce the desired effect on its own time and its own terms, and out of its own power.

“And God said, let there be light, and it was light,” we read in the immortal words of Genesis.  “In the beginning there was The Word,” echoes John in his gospel.  And so, Isaiah, Jesus, and others that from time to time God appoints to say what God has to say, they all understood that theirs was a mission meant to be fruitful – as long as they remain true to the Word entrusted to them.

There is a lot going on in the world, in our nation, in towns and in farmlands.  America is going through a time that no one in our living history witnessed before.  And, whether we like or not, its effects will be epoch-making.  And some of the things that need to be done today, tomorrow, in the next months and years, are not what we expected to hear or even we may wish to hear.

I do not pretend to be a prophet or someone who knows the mind of God, as some people may think, much to their own peril, let me suggest!

But I do know this.  God has not left us behind.  Even if we have not been up to par with His purposes, He has not forgotten or has turned His back on us.  Mind you; this is not to say that we should continue “steady on the course,” and pretend that everything is cool.

I believe it is a time for us to take stock of our plight and take the medicine.  “If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars.  For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen,” (1 John 4:10).  “In God we trust,” we like to affirm.  But do we trust God in His commandment to love others as ourselves?

“Well, I know – but they (fill in the blank) really do not deserve it, because…”  Question: Did you ever deserve that Christ died for your sins?  “Well, God made me free to make my own decisions.”  Question: What do you think about Jesus “Who did not think of equality with God as something to cling to (…) Instead, he gave up his divine privileges,” and choose to die on the Cross for you?

Brandishing a Bible has never been enough.  We will only be right if we allow God’s Word to take hold of our lives, our thoughts, and our actions.

“Seek God while he’s here to be found, pray to him while he’s close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking.  Let them come back to God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness,” (V. 6,7).  May God’s Word bring forth fruit for the healing of our nation and for the glory of Jesus Christ, the Living Word.  Amen.

Fr. Gustavo

Fr. Gustavo,
The Rev. T. G. Mansella, Vicar
St. David’s Church
PO Box 125
11291 West River Road
Aylett, VA 23009-0125
+1 804 496 1002