A homily for today’s Eucharist. We used the weekdays of Lent lectionary:
Isaiah 55: 6-11
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
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.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Matthew 6: 7-15
“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
We all came here today with the events of yesterday and the sadness of our neighbours heavy on our hearts and minds. In Isaiah we find wisdom: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” There is much that we do not understand, that we cannot account for, that we trust that God knows and will account for and take care of. It’s a comfort, perhaps, but it is not really too much of a comfort. We feel as though there should be something more.
And there is more. Jesus tells us that our heavenly Father knows what we need even before we ask. God knows our needs, and Jesus is quite direct in how he advises us to pray about them.
We need food to live, and we ask for our daily bread.
We need company, fellowship, community, and we ask for the grace to live together with goodwill and forgiveness, to fight fairly, and to be reconciled.
We are afraid of evil that we see around us, and we pray to be saved from it. We pray that we will not come face to face with it.
Even Jesus prayed not to have to walk into the time of trial, not to have to suffer evil, when he prayed in the garden.
Even Jesus had to face that time of trial, come face to face with the evil one, suffer and die on the cross.
In our Bible Study class we are reading Revelation. The audience to whom John wrote was in the midst of suffering, and John told them that God’s kingdom was coming, was already here; God’s will be done. It was hard to see; it’s still hard to read. Still, God’s word does not return empty, but accomplishes that which God purposed.
God knows our needs before we ask them. God knows that we suffer in the face of evil, in the times of trial. God’s ways are not our ways, nor God’s thoughts our thoughts, but God loves us as a father.
And God’s Word, Jesus Christ, did not return empty from his time of trial, did not lay empty in the grave, but he accomplished and accomplishes God’s purpose, that for which he was sent. And in him lies our hope.
May light perpetual shine upon those who have lost their lives to violence. May God’s Spirit and God’s people comfort those who grieve for them. May God’s kingdom come, and with it, the peace that passes all understanding.