The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer

Introduction to the readings for World Food Sunday

Both of our readings from scripture this morning emphasize the promise of God’s abiding presence embodied through hopeful persistence in the face of significant struggle. 

Our first reading comes from the mouth of Jeremiah, one of God’s ‘larger than life’ messengers, sometimes referred to as the weeping prophet. 

Addressing his words to a community of listeners whose memories of disaster and destruction in exile continue to prevail, Jeremiah offers a hope-filled vision for the future of his disheartened people.

In poetic language, Jeremiah paints a vivid picture for the future-a place where community will be restored-where both the vulnerable and the marginalized will be welcomed and revered.

Listen with care for how his comforting words might reach across the ages bringing us a similar promise of intimate covenantal relationship with God; a promise so intimate we might experience it as written, not on stone tablets, but rather, in love, across our hearts. 

Imagine that! 

God’s signature written upon the heart of each person gathered to hear God’s word from the lips of the prophet, Jeremiah. 

May we, who have ears to hear, and hearts to listen, may we gain meaning and hope from these ancient words!

A reading from Chapter 31, verses 27-34

“I will put my law within them and I will write it on their hearts”

 “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. 

And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down,  to overthrow an, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord.

In those days they will no longer say: “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” 

But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge.

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 

It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt-a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts: “and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 

No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,”

for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” says the Lord;

“for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”

Here ends the first of our readings for scripture this morning.

 

Our sung response this morning is found at Voices United, 400

“Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying”

 

Our gospel reading this morning, comes to us from the author, Luke. 

As such, it’s the sixth in a series of seven parable Jesus offers those folks gathered in community, longing to hear a word of encouragement and inspiration. 

Knowing that there is always more than less to parables and that this particular parable seems both ambiguous and provocative, ask yourself this:

Where might I locate myself in the story? 

For example, might I find praying without ceasing on the sidelines as Jesus instructs his listeners to do?

Might I find myself drawn in by and aligned with the unjust judge whose patience is tested by a most vulnerable but pesky woman? 

Or might I find myself aligned with the woman herself who perseveres in seeking support for her own needs over and against those of an unnamed adversary? 

Maybe I find myself invisibly blending into the crowd as Jesus offers this challenging teaching? 

Perhaps I might find myself located sitting up front with those first followers in the way whose passion for change has them not wanting to miss one iota of what’s being shared?

Wherever you find yourself located, listen to what truths shimmer and glisten for you in the good news from the gospel according to Luke,  especially today, aware that we celebrate the thirty seventh anniversary of World Food Sunday, one set aside to raise awareness and action on behalf of the world’s hungry.

A reading from the gospel according to Luke, Chapter 18, verses 1-8

 “The parable of the widow and the unjust judge”

“Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. 

He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 

In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent’. 

For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 

And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night?  Will he delay long in helping them? 

I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. 

And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

 

Reader: For the Word of God in scripture, for the Word of God among us, for the Word of God within us, thanks be to God!