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The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost A, August 27, 2023

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The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost A, August 27, 2023

One of the skills I learned as a child was how to drive a nail.  At times I bent the nail instead of driving it straight.  My father showed me how to straighten nails by hammering flat their bent places.  Once straightened the nail would be useful again.

     There can be no argument about the burdens of life:  they weigh us down, bend us over, and eventually we’re so “curved in” on ourselves that all we can see is ourselves and our troubles.  In Latin, this is “in curvatus in se.”  This describes what sin is—being curved in upon oneself—our eyes are full of ourselves and our needs.

     In that position we need to be “straightened out”—to be “justified.”  This is exactly what the Lord does by his Word:  he justifies us; he straightens us out with a simple command: “Lift up your eyes…!”  And the giving of a promise: “My salvation will be forever…!”  Like hammer blows God’s Word falls upon our bent places, hammering us straight until we’re useful—righteous—once again.  Again, and again our heavenly Father drives home the reality that the things of this life—its troubles, its burdens, its sin—are all temporary.  The Lord, when he comes to rule openly, drives the earth and the sky away from him; the old has no place anymore (cf. Rev. 20:11).  Only the Word of the Lord and the salvation it delivers are permanent; they will last forever!  The Lord and his new creation… a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem abide forever in the undismayed righteousness of the one whose salvation has gone out before him.

Table Talk:  Discuss the difference between temporary and permanent; between being bent and being straightened.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, straighten us and make us useful again

Isaiah 51:1-6

Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,

you who seek the Lord:

look to the rock from which you were hewn,

and to the quarry from which you were dug.

2 Look to Abraham your father

and to Sarah who bore you;

for he was but one when I called him,

that I might bless him and multiply him.

3 For the Lord comforts Zion;

he comforts all her waste places

and makes her wilderness like Eden,

her desert like the garden of the Lord;

joy and gladness will be found in her,

thanksgiving and the voice of song.

4 Give attention to me, my people,

and give ear to me, my nation;

for a law will go out from me,

and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples.

5 My righteousness draws near,

my salvation has gone out,

and my arms will judge the peoples;

the coastlands hope for me,

and for my arm they wait.

6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,

and look at the earth beneath;

for the heavens vanish like smoke,

the earth will wear out like a garment,

and they who dwell in it will die in like manner;

but my salvation will be forever,

and my righteousness will never be dismayed.

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