Seventh Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 12

Track 1: Playing the Harlot

Hosea 1:2-10
Psalm 85
Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19)
Luke 11:1-13

God commands Hosea to marry a “wife of whoredom [zenunim],” . This Hebrew term indicates illicit sexual behavior. Reading from Hosea:

When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” So he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.   (Hosea 1:2-3)

This is the first of a series of expressions in Hosea where God puts himself in the place of a forsaken human lover. Israel had forsaken God by worshipping the false gods of their neighboring nations. Baal worship was one of them whereby the Israelites had to sacrifice their children for a prosperous harvest.

In our nation we may not actually worship Baal, though it has been reported that some of  our leaders do. Unwittingly, we may have been worshipping Baal by the horrendous number of abortions committed each year.

But let us discuss another from of worship. Do we get excited about big league sports and popular celebrities and entertainment that our church services? These are not necessarily bad, but can be major distractions. Who is in control of some these events? It should be easy to tell by some of the Super Bowl halftime shows. Then there is the ideology of some of the big time players of sports which is certainly not Godly or even patriotic.Are they being paid  to speak this nonsense?

How exiting and uplifting are our church services? Possibly not so much if God is locked out of our buttoned downed worship. God wants real worship. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well:

The hour is coming and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.   (John 4:23-24)

The psalmist wrote:

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I will sing your praise.

I will bow down toward your holy temple
and praise your Name,
because of your love and faithfulness;

For you have glorified your Name
and your word above all things.   (Psalm 85:1-3)

Are we being seduced by “lovers” other than God and his Son Jesus Christ? Through Hosea God had to tell Israel:

You are not my people and I am not your God.   (Hosea 1:10)

The psalmist wrote:

Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.   (Psalm 33:12)

God is now speaking to our nation, as he is to every nation around the world. We use to be the moral compass for the world. Is the world now becoming our moral compass. We are living in an extended time for repentance and God is waiting on us. Hr wants to bless us. God we want to bless him? The psalmist wrote:

Will you not give us life again,
that your people may rejoice in you?

Show us your mercy, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.

I will listen to what the Lord God is saying,
for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
and to those who turn their hearts to him.

Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.

Mercy and truth have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Truth shall spring up from the earth,
and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

The Lord will indeed grant prosperity,
and our land will yield its increase.

Righteousness shall go before him,
and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

 

Track 2: Abraham’s Intercession

Genesis 18:20-32
Psalm 138
Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19)
Luke 11:1-13

Abraham had a relationship with God the Father. He had access to him. He spoke to God face to face. He believed the promises of God more than the circumstances that he saw around him, not matter how unlikely they might seem to the human mind. He believed God’s Word and trusted that God would act upon his Word. God saw this in Abraham. He tested Abraham’s faith and Abraham passed all tests, no matter how severe they might be. Because of this, God counted Abraham’s faith as righteousness.

In today’s Old Testament reading we see Abraham interceding for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God was prepared to destroy the cities because of their wickedness:

The Lord said to Abraham, “How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.”

So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham came near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.”   (Genesis 18:20-26)

There are many remarkable things about the prayers of Abraham. God listens to Abraham and takes into account what Abraham is saying. God allowed Abraham to reason with him, the Almighty God and creator of the universe and all like within it. What we view is a partnership of love and concern for all peoples, even exceptionally evil people.

Can we pray like Abraham? We should be able to do so. God calls us to such prayer. But we must have access to God. He must be able to look at us and see righteousness. In the Book of James ew read:

The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.   (James 5:16)

Jesus is our access. He is our righteousness by faith:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.   (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Are we now ready to pray like Abraham? In order to pray like Abraham we must also see like Abraham. Abraham had compassion for the entire human race, even for citizens of Sodom and G. In other words, Abraham was able to look through the eyes of God. Each person has the potential to become like God. He did not want to interfere with that divine call of God. Rather, he wanted to intercede for that call.

Are we able to pray for the people we judge? Are we able to pray for our enemies? Jesus said:

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.   (Luke 6:28)

A true intercessor before God has no human enemies. The Apostle Paul wrote:

for our struggle is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.   (Ephesians 6:12)

Because of his faith, Abraham looked forward forward with optimism for the kingdom of God to be established:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance, and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.   (Hebrews 11:8-10)

We are in partnership with God. God needs prayers. We need his wisdom and direction. Let us follow the example of the Father of faith and pray for the lost. For in our day we see many Sodom’s and Gomorrah’s.

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Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year C

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