We are a warm, welcoming & inclusive church in the Anglican tradition. A loving community where all people are invited to grow in relationship with God and one another.

Third Sunday in Lent

Readings: Isaiah 55:1–9, 1 Corinthians 10:1–13 & Luke 13:31–35

As I’ve mentioned in a number of previous sermons, we know for a fact that fewer Australians identify themselves as Christians these days than in years gone by. And we also know there is no one single factor that is responsible for this change. 

But I’m reasonably confident that a strong contributing reason, would have to be the fact that, in general terms, as a society, we are far more comfortable these days. Again, to speak in general terms, most of us have a pretty good lifestyle, and there is not a lot that we want for.

So in some respects, people don’t need God. They are doing pretty well without Him!

We hear about a similar rejection of God in our first reading today from the Book of Isaiah. The prophet says that all are invited to attend a banquet, which refers to the heavenly banquet when God will gather all his people together, but there some who refuse the invitation with contempt, preferring to keep the company of an exclusive few who enjoy special privilege, those who Isaiah tells us, “spend their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which does not satisfy”. 

Paul warns against this type of behaviour in today’s passage from the First Letter to the Corinthians. Prior to this chapter in his letter, Paul has been dealing with the question of the Corinthian Christians eating meat which has been offered to idols. Some of them have become overconfident, thinking to themselves, ‘We have been baptised and are therefore one in Christ; we have shared in the sacrament of his body and blood; we are in him and he in us; therefore we are quite safe; we can eat meat offered to idols and suffer no harm”. In todays passage, Paul is warning them of the danger in being so over confident. 

He then turns to the history of his ancestors, to show what can happen to people who are blessed with the greatest privileges. He goes back to the time when the Israelites wandered in the desert under the leadership of Moses. They had been led out of slavery in Egypt and brought safely through the Red Sea. God led their way in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They had been given manna to eat in the wilderness, and when they needed it, water to drink from a rock in the desert. Despite receiving all of these blessings, the people of Israel failed dismally, because they were not able to resist temptation. 

When they thought Moses had abandoned them the people made a golden calf and began to worship it, and at another time the men of Israel had sexual relations with the women of Moab and then began to worship their gods and to eat food that had been sacrificed to those gods. So Paul warns the Corinthians to be on guard against temptation. And he encourages them to put their trust in God, the God who is faithful, and who will not let them be tested beyond what they are capable of enduring.

When Jesus receives a warning from some Pharisees about Herod’s intention to murder him, he reflects on his mission and ministry, and does not let the threat of death deter him from finishing what he has set out to do. 

He laments the fact that Jerusalem has consistently rejected, and killed, the prophets that God sent to them, even though the message these prophets were bringing, was one of comfort and security, much like the comfort and security that a hen provides for her brood of young. And Jesus laments the destruction that is to befall the city at the hands of the Romans in the years after his death.

So we can see that this notion of people rejecting God’s invitation to be with Him is nothing new. It is not something that is peculiar to our modern generation. It has been going on for several thousand years! And in all of that time, God has still found ways to draw people to him. For as we heard in our reading from Isaiah this morning, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Is. 55:8–9 NRSV)

And it’s so nice to see that this morning we welcome a new member into God’s family, as we baptise James, and welcome him into our community of faith here at St Andrew’s, a community which was of course such a big part of the life of his great grandmother, our much loved Jean Parker.

God invites all people into His family; we are all invited to join Him in the the great heavenly banquet, when God will gather us together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.


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