Third Sunday in Lent – Sunday, March 24, 2019

March 24, 2019  

Isaiah 55:1-9

People have said we “do food” well here at Our Savior’s.
Give us a reason and we will share a meal. Or a snack. Or something.

Meals are a part of our tradition, not only here at Our Savior’s but as people of faith in communities around the world, throughout time.
Again, hear these words from the book of Isaiah:

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good…

The Israelites had been living in exile, away from home, suffering desperately. There was famine. There was hunger. There was no water to drink; all were thirsty. There was no wine or milk to buy, even if anyone had money to buy it. There was nothing to eat.

And then—their exile ended. They were invited home.

Biblical scholar Gail Ramshaw wrote in her exegesis of this reading that their “return from exile signals a renewal of all of life.” (Sundays and Seasons).
The renewal wasn’t just for those people who were in exile. It was for all of God’s people.
Ramshaw wrote “God, whose mercy is beyond understanding, welcomes everyone who repents to enjoy a feast of forgiveness”(Sundays and Seasons).

On what does one dine when one is enjoying a feast of forgiveness?

In our sacramental context the answer is bread and wine—or maybe bread and grape juice.
Martin Luther wrote in his explanation of the Sacrament of the Altar (aka communion) that the benefit of eating and drinking is that

The words “given for you” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sin” show us that forgiveness of sin, life, and salvation are given to us in the sacrament through these words, because where there is forgiveness of sin there is also life and salvation” (ELW p. 1166).

Key words: for you.
At least, according to Luther.
He wrote in the catechism that “the words ‘for you’ require truly believing hearts” (ELW p. 1166).

Do you believe that the body and blood of Christ were given for you?
Do you believe that the body and blood of Christ were shed for you for the forgiveness of your sin?

We don’t do “altar calls” in our tradition, but this altar is calling your name.
If you haven’t thought of it this way, think of it now—communion is one of the meals we here at Our Savior’s serve weekly. Just like Come for Supper. We haven’t always served weekly, not that long ago we served communion bi-weekly, probably before that it was monthly, and probably before that even less regularly, going back to when communion was served no more than two or three times a year. But we have been serving this meal for many, many years.

In fact, for as long as this congregation has existed, our altar has been calling people by name, saying “Come to the banquet, for all is now ready” (ELW p. 134).

There are those that question the need to serve communion each week. When I am asked why we do so I usually respond by saying that Luther would prefer we had communion every day.

Why?

Because we so desperately hunger for a feast of forgiveness. Each and every day.

Look at your selves. Look at your own hearts. Look at the many ways you turn from God rather than toward God. Our sinful selves manifest themselves daily. Our sinful selves manifest themselves hourly. We need Jesus. We need to receive his body and blood. We need to receive his promise of new life and salvation.

And so we come to the table, because we thirst. We come to eat what is good.
Thanks be to God for the gift of life and salvation we receive.

Amen.