Roger's Postings

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Isaiah 25:1-9.              Something to look forward to!                       09/10/11

 (1)  O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago. {2} You have made the city a heap of rubble, the fortified town a ruin, the foreigners' stronghold a city no more; it will never be rebuilt. {3} Therefore strong peoples will honour you; cities of ruthless nations will revere you. {4} You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall {5} and like the heat of the desert. You silence the uproar of foreigners; as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled. {6} On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine-- the best of meats and the finest of wines. {7} On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; {8} he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. {9} In that day they will say, "Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation."

 Something to look forward to. That is what this message is all about. To look forward through whatever the situation or hardship might be, to that something which is much better beyond: To look forward to being a part of that great heavenly banquet of victory; which our Gospel reading for today likens to a wedding feast. But I guess the big question that is put to us in the Gospel reading is; do we really want to be a part of this future glory, or do we simply want to live for the moment and for our own ideals?

 We could very well liken the current financial recession or drought situation that our nation had recently, to the time of Isaiah and what the people then were facing. Because at this present time we are being reminded in this country that we do not have all power and control. The financial situation of our country is crumbling despite the fact that we have been told that we are in good shape.

 Here God is surely reminding us again that we cannot live simply by and for ourselves, without any reference to him and what he has to say. Here again he is seeking to get us to look through the situation and see what he has in mind for us. But the question is; do we want to hear and understand? I suspect not. I suspect that still most people today are like the invited guests to the wedding: Sorry I have got my own life to live.

Here though we need to learn a lesson or two from a good number of our farmers in this country. What was their approach to this drought? Most of them recognised that this is very much a part of living in this country, and a part of farming life. Sure it makes life tough; and particularly when you have little support from and recognition of the difficulties of farming from our politicians and bureaucrats in the cities. But they keep on keeping on: recognising that there will be good times ahead. There have been droughts and good years before, and will be again. In the meantime they seek to learn what lessons they can from the tough times, and continue to seek to do the best they can to ensure that they minimise the harmful effects of drought. But through it all they are generally looking to the good times that are just around the corner.

 In the rest of society we also see elements of this thinking. The young mother-to-be looks forward to the birth of her child: then to that child going to school: The teenager looks forward to leaving school and getting a job: The worker looking forward to retirement: The aged and ill looking forward to death. In the midst of the difficulties of life there is the constant looking forward to something better.

 Some might say that this is a form of escapism, but it would appear that this is a way of helping us in the midst of whatever we are facing in life. It not only helps us avoid getting bogged down in our situation, but helps us to work positively in the face of adversity. As a result we can live as best we can under the circumstances in a way that is good. Knowing the future is good, means we can live confidently in the present; even though life may be difficult.

 No more so, is this applicable to our spiritual lives. Here, we are constantly facing all kinds of pressures, difficulties and failures, and constantly need the assurances that there is something better ahead. Today we are being tempted and hassled by all kinds of doubts and uncertainties when it comes to our Christian faith. The Church in Australia is also suffering a time of drought and neglect, and these pressures are encircling us like a python trying to squeeze the life out of us. Sorrow and death hang over our heads like a vulture ready to swoop and claim its prize.

 It is here at this point that we are given again that which will enable us to look through our present situation and see what is ahead, so that we can not only cope with our present situation, but work diligently in the midst of it. Here we are given that which will enable us to have a calm and peace about us that is beyond our understanding, and that will give us the courage and strength to continue on positively. No matter what we face, we can handle it with confidence and know that we will come out winners.

 In fact we know that we have won already: the banquet is prepared and ready, with the very best of everything awaiting us. Our King has it all there for us, with our invitations already given to us. So there ahead of us is our heavenly banquet with God, with no more concerns of evil and death. Can you imagine that; being with our Lord himself and sharing the best of everything, with no more fears or doubts; troubles our hardships. Is it any wonder that there will be rejoicing and gladness: It will be simply fantastic.

 And it is all there ahead of us: guaranteed. It is ours because of what the Lord Jesus has done for us. His life, death and resurrection has broken the back of sin, death and the devil. It no longer has the power to defeat us, no matter what we face. As a result of what Jesus has done for us, we now can have complete confidence to know that this great feast awaits us. All we need do is to trust that it is so: To trust that Jesus has won through for us.

 That being the case we can now hold our heads up high and put our shoulders to the grindstone. We can get on with being the people that God has made us in Christ Jesus, and doing that which is in accord with his will. We can now regularly gather together in worship to be strengthened and encouraged by our Lord through his Word and the Sacraments, and to support, encourage and help one another in our Christian lives.

 In the face of the problems in the church and society around about us, we can confidently hold to the truth of God’s Word, and go about our tasks seeking to be faithful in all that we do, and know that in the end God will win out: because he has already won out. In our own personal struggles and difficulties we can rise up and boldly go forward step by step doing the right thing, for we know that our Lord goes with us and leads the way through toward our heavenly home. In every thing we can live and be the people of God that we are, in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, the financial crisis; the declining morality; and even the tough times in the church may be evident around about us: and we may face all kinds of adversities and difficulties; but we know that they are now there simply to remind us again of the things that are important. They are there to seek to draw us back to being his faithful and committed people: a people that look to and follow Jesus Christ and what he has to say, and not ourselves and the world around us. Yes we know the task is not easy: and that in a sinful, fallen world it never will be; but our Lord is there with us through it all, and the victory has been won: all that remains is for us to collect the prize.

 So let us go from here encouraged, and encouraging one another, to lift our eyes and see the victory feast that has been won for us by our Lord Jesus. Let us look beyond that which surrounds us, and see the final outcome, so that we do not become distracted or disheartened. Looking to our Lord Jesus Christ and trusting in his work of salvation. For on the cross at Jerusalem he destroyed the shroud that enfolds all people and has swallowed up death forever. So he has and will wipe away all tears from our faces and removed our disgrace.
Yes surely then we also can say: "Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation."
Look to the Lord Jesus for he alone, is our life and our salvation. For to him alone belongs all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.

 Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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