March 3rd, “Worship as Nourishment”

Does your spirit hunger and thirst? God’s market is open, even when your wallet stays closed.

This Week’s Passage: Isaiah 55:1-9

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Year C for 3rd Sunday in Lent

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

1-2 – – “Buy and eat.” Not free food, but free market.

3-5 – – God’s covenant attracts others.

6-9 – – Repentance defined

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • The remaining section of the chapter compares the word of the LORD to rain that freely waters the earth before returning to heaven.

III. Question the text.

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of Gravity: Repentance satisfies and God nourishes.

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • God offers mercy freely, unlike the street vendor who expects compensation for his food purchased.

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

W. Eugene March (“Seek the Lord,” The Presbyterian Outlook, p. 20, December 17th, 2001.) places this passage at the end of Second Isaiah, who wrote to exiles in Babylon about 539 BC. He notes the contrast between the vendor’s call –“Come, buy, eat!”– and God’s abundant and unlimited gracious care. He interprets verses 6-9 as boldly asserting God’s abundant pardon, “the door through which all may enter into the forgiving mercy of the Lord God.” He asks: “How does the good news about God’s capacity and willingness to pardon affect your outlook on life and your understanding of th message the church has to proclaim?”

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

People cannot buy God’s pardon, it is abundantly available to all who would return to God’s ways.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

Return to God with rejoicing!

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