Jul 29, 2023
a. First Reading Amos 7: 7 - 8
b. Second Reading Matt. 23:23
c. Third Reading Deut.16: 18 -20
d. Gospel Luke 13: 10 - 17
2. Sermon Go God’s love going way
The people of Israel were suffering in Egypt, forced to labour, building cities temples and tombs. They cry out against this injustice and God hears their cries and rescues them giving them a leader called Moses. God rescues them because God sees their suffering and because years ago God made a promise to the founder of their community, a man named Abraham and his wife Sarah, to make them a great people, a powerful country. So God sees the suffering of forced labour and remembers the promise and rescues them. They are not especially good people or especially bad people, but God is good and compassionate. God cares about injustice and people suffering, and God keeps promises.
So God says to them “I have rescued you because I saw your suffering and I keep my promises. I want you to respond to others in the same way. I want you to be honest, to run fair courts, to treat each other, neighbours, and foreigners just how I treated you. You were once slaves and strangers and hard done by. I want you to be compassionate, to stand up against injustice and keep your promises. Go my way. Use honest measures, create honest courts, treat the great and mighty and the small and powerless just the same.
Over 1, 000 years later a disabled woman, held captive by her body is in a synagogue, a Jewish meeting house, sort of the Jewish equivalent of a church. Jesus is also there, and he heals her, she is no longer disabled, no longer a prisoner, she is free. Jesus’ God come among us has seen this woman held captive and because he is God in human form he reflects God’s character of kindness and compassion and a desire for what is right and rescues her just like the people of Israel were rescued. When the church leader objects because it’s the Sabbath, the holy day of rest, Jesus stands up for justice, for what is right and says, “You hypocrite, you are being unfair, you wouldn’t treat an animal like this just because it is the day of rest. The good and right thing to do is to rescue this woman, no matter what day it is.”
Jesus not only rescued the woman, he rescues you and me. In Australia, in Rockhampton we may not be slaves forced by a king to build cities, but we are all sometimes selfish, and self promoting. Many drink too much, many eat too much, and like the church leader sometimes we fail to help those in need, because we think other things are more important. God saw that we would be slaves to a way of life that puts ourselves first, and that we and others would suffer because of it. So God sent Jesus, to live and to be the good life, to die our death, to be raised to new life and share that life with us, so we could be set free from our own selfishness, and the selfishness of others and do what is good and just.
Today we baptised Reuben. In baptism we say God loves and accepts Reuben even though he does not understand what is going on, even though he can’t do much to help people in need, even though he can’t give service or money to the church or charity. In baptism we say God accepts, claims and loves us too. Jesus lived for us, died for us and was raised to new life for us. God rescues us just as God rescued Israel. If this is true just as God said to Israel, Jesus says to us, “I have rescued you, so live lives that reflect God’s character and my character. Love your neighbours, love your enemies, stand up for the right thing, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive one another as I have forgiven you. Set the prisoners free.” The people of Israel were loved and claimed rescued by God, Reuben has been loved and claimed and rescued by Jesus, You and I have been loved and claimed and rescued. So live lives that reflect that character of God, the character of Jesus. Go God’s love going way! Amen!