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Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost A, November 12, 2023

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Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost A, November 12, 2023

Out of our common humanity’s fascination with religion, our sin demands that we impress God with our prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.  On and on we go, feasting and banquets, assemblies solemn and reverent, sacrifices and offerings for reconciliation and peace, songs and music delight us and so, we think, they delight God.  In reality, these practices simply delight us, and we truly do enjoy offering to God those things that please us.  All the while, we have gotten the direction wrong.  The direction of worship is not from us upward to where God resides.  No, the direction of worship is from God downward to us.

Listen to what the Lord has to say about his people’s misdirection of their worship.  What of their solemn and reverent assemblies?  God takes no delight in them (vs. 21).  What of the sacrifices they’re so proud and pleased to make?  God will neither accept them nor look upon them (vs. 22).  What about those sweet melodies and songs they so love to perform for the Lord while they enjoy them so much?  God will not listen and commands them to be taken away (vs. 23).

God abhors such religious practices because those practices are all about satisfying us and our own righteousness.  Such worship of God merely supplies the excuse for the practice of our religiosity.  Our Lord desires an entirely opposite direction for worship that delights him.  Rather than this common humanity acting out its sinfulness in an upward display of religiosity, our Lord wants to pour out upon us his justice and his righteousness.  When our Lord speaks, it is as if the floodgates have opened, and all God’s treasures roll down from heaven like an ever-flowing stream of mercy and grace (Cf. vs. 24).

Now, when your preacher opens her or his mouth and proclaims God’s Word in your midst—that is, preaches Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone, handed over to be the life of sinners dead in their sin… then your religiosity is silenced… shut up… so that Jesus Christ—the Word of God—can be heard saying, “You are mine.  I have claimed you.  I will give you rest.  Rest, now.  Your sins are forgiven in my name.”  To hear and believe those words is true worship indeed.

Table Talk:  Discuss how so much of our so-called worship is for our own enjoyment.
Pray:  Heavenly Father, hold me in the humility and hope that my God comes down to me.  Amen.

Amos 5:18-24

18 Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!

Why would you have the day of the Lord?

It is darkness, and not light,

19 as if a man fled from a lion,

and a bear met him,

or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,

and a serpent bit him.

20 Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light,

and gloom with no brightness in it?

21 I hate, I despise your feasts,

and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.

22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,

I will not accept them;

and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,

I will not look upon them.

23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;

to the melody of your harps I will not listen.

24 But let justice roll down like waters,

and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.


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