Sermon for the 21st Sunday after Pentecost

Jeremiah 31:27-34; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5; Luke 18:1-8

Every group of the faithful needs a comforting word from time to time, particularly when the community is under stress. As Jeremiah continues his prophecy from God, he makes the point that the desolation of their native land and of their very souls will pass away, that once again the land will be crowded with laughing children and the fields filled with cattle and sheep.

Jeremiah also speaks of a time of renewed faith when God will try a new approach with the people—rejuvenating the covenant by internalizing it in the hearts and minds of the people.

God looks to a time when people will do the right thing without thinking and where nothing will be more important than their relationship with God.

I think that it is fair to say that in this modern era, the covenant of God as we experience it in Jesus Christ has yet to become the central point in the lives of even the most devout believers.

We live in a complex time when the competing voices threatened to descend into cacophony and the word of God can be crowded out by the noise. It means that we more than ever need to be faithful in daily prayer, take time to be with God without the interference of the sounds of modern life, and allow God to reveal meaning through our experience of Holy Scripture.

Paul in writing to Timothy says all scripture is inspired by God and useful for the Christian life of ministry in service. It will prepare us for every good work and has the potential to transcend the noise and busy-ness of our lives.

Yet Holy Scripture have been locked in controversy by faithful but competing views.

Both speak of others being those providing fodder for itching ears. I think they miss the point.

It seems to me that the word of God as found in Scripture speaks to us in both specific and general ways, based on our situations. But it requires several things on our point.

First we need to offer the situation to God. Second we have to be willing to be present with scripture without assuming we have the answers. Finally we need to be open to whether what we are reading or hearing is truly relevant to our lives.

The classic Christian understanding is that the surest way to fuller understanding God’s word is to experience the scripture in the context of the community with which we worship and participate in God’s ministries. I believe that this is the surest though not always the perfect way.

Now I’d like to shift and discuss prayer. I think we are often confused in our expectations of prayer. Part of our confusion comes from what Jesus says about prayer.

Today’s gospel is no exception. We are told that the disciples are told this parable about their need to pray always and not lose heart. He goes on to relate how a widow keeps after an unjust judge to give her justice until her nagging drives him to grant her justice

Jesus concludes that God will not long delay answering the prayers of the elect. However, we might conclude that our prayers for needs, wants and desires which aren’t answered as we want demonstrate that we must be doing something wrong or that the way the disciples prayed was special and we can’t duplicate that style.

But Jesus is not focusing on just any sort of prayer but prayer for justice. That is what Jesus is calling for—the relentless prayer of the faithful for justice for those in need and this should be our focus as well.

When we pray earnestly, we focus and are rewarded with insights as to how we might make a difference.

But Jesus is concerned with a greater problem and that is whether people will be faithful. And this is a concern. Jesus has seen those who have observed miraculous healings and feedings and the excitement passes with kindling faith.

Will justice assist people to become more faithful? That is the question and important to answer. Brothers and sisters, what will our answer be?

Amen.