Third Sunday in Lent March 7, 2010.

Position:Preaching Helps

Isaiah 55:1-9

Psalm 63:1-8

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Luke 13:1-9

First Reading

We find in all of the readings for today Gods abundant forgiveness. Specifically the readings speak of God's patience and willingness to always give second chances. And third chances. And ...

In the familiar reading from Isaiah 55, we hear Isaiah's call to plenty in God's abundant kingdom. We hear the call to rethink what it is that we seek, to ensure that we labor for things that satisfy. And at least in emphasis we often stop there. But the passage continues with words of promise and patience from a God of grace in verse 7: "Let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."

In 1 Corinthians, Paul uses the bad things that happened to his ancestors when they were in the wilderness with Moses. This text, along with the Gospel reading, raise serious questions of theodicy that might well be worth dealing with. How do we understand the suffering of the people in the wilderness? Was it because of their sin? While these questions are important, they do not seem to be Paul's primary concern. Paul is not concerned so much with the people in the wilderness as he is with his hearers: what lesson can they take from history? Paul even goes so far as to posit a causal relationship in verse 6: "these things occurred as examples for us ..." For Paul, it is clear that God does not want these things to happen to us. God wants us to live. God wants to provide us with examples and warnings that would allow us to choose life.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus provides some corrective to the kind of answers to theodicy questions that could be prompted by reading I Corinthians. Did this Galilean sin more than anyone else? NO. Were the eighteen killed by the falling of the tower of Siloam worse offenders? NO. But the call to repentance still remains. And with the parable about the fig tree, there is a promise that God is patient and forgiving. God allows second chances.

Pastoral Reflection

Jesus' teaching here is tipped from the headlines. He is taking current events and providing theological...

To continue reading