This week’s sermon was a bit shortened because we also had the reminder and rehearsal of God’s work as we celebrated the Lord’s Supper. So, today we will have a brief thought or two about both parts of Sunday’s proclamation.
The first: I drew the sermon out of Isaiah 55. Since it was a “one-off” sermon, not really starting a series or continuing one in Isaiah, I did not do any background on the authorship or context of Isaiah. Also, the background on Isaiah takes a bit of time, which was another reason not to broach it on a Sunday morning. Isaiah has complications and I’m not even going there here and now.
The main part I want to highlight is that Isaiah 55 comes from the latter part of Isaiah, which has a markedly different tone than the earlier parts. Isaiah 6, for all its glory as the “call of Isaiah,” still has a very bleak feel. As one gets into the back parts of the book, however, Isaiah speaks more and more of restoration for the righteous. Especially for those who repent and seek that restoration. Isaiah 55 is no exception to this: there is a call-out that one should seek God while He may be found.
From this, we should not take that there are times where God is missing or absent. Rather, see the idea as God declaring there will be a time when access is closed. The general idea is that God will, at some point, be present to execute judgment and seeking His mercy should be a priority.
I think there is something applicable here for the church: we want people to seek God’s mercy. That may require a modicum of expounding upon impending judgment, but the primary thing we long for people to do is find mercy. So let us proclaim His mercy.
The other time of our service was directed to the observation of the Lord’s Supper. Now, whole books are written about the theology of the Lord’s Supper, proper ways to observe the Eucharist, relevant paths to celebrate Communion—all of which weigh on the subject matter.
You don’t need to stare at this screen long enough to sort through those. Instead, I would encourage you to focus on a couple of salient points:
1. I do not think we capture the meaning of the Lord’s Supper right when it’s a tagged-on ending to a service nor when we just sit in straight rows and our participation is simply to wait until we’re handed a disposable cup and a styrofoam-tasting wafer. There is a participation that we’re missing when we treat Holy Communion like getting a hot dog from a vendor at the ballpark.
2. The reminder that we are responsible for the sacrifice of Jesus—it is for us that His body was torn, that His blood was poured out—goes alongside the reminder that we are also the beneficiaries of that same sacrifice. One does not need to theologize this into weird pretzels. One can simply be very grateful, humbled, honored, and encouraged all at the same time.