August 23, 2020
Lectionary 21, Year A
The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Emmanuel, Norwood, MA
Pastor Amanda L. Warner
As you know, I’ve been on vacation for the past two weeks. On Monday, August 10th, we loaded our stuff and our kids and our dog into our van and headed south. We drove for 15 hours to get to my in-laws house in South Carolina.
Then, after a nice visit with them in their home, the next Saturday, we loaded our stuff and our kids and our dog into our van and Britton’s parents and sister loaded into their cars and we all headed to the North Carolina coast, where we met up with my parents and my sister and her family for a family beach vacation in a house that we all rented together.
We spent Saturday evening getting settled into our beach house. The next morning, we watched the live stream of worship at my sister’s family’s church, Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Fairfax, Virginia. Then it was time to go to the beach.
Everyone got into their swimsuits. Then we got all of our beach going stuff together, beach chairs, umbrellas, sand toys, boogie boards, snacks and water.
Needless to say, we were all super excited to get to the beach, to play in the waves, to dig in the sand, to sit in the sun, but we still had one more thing to do. We had to put on sunscreen. Let me tell you, it takes a long time to make sure that six people are adequately covered in sunscreen.
From the moment worship ended and we said, “Let’s go to the beach,” it was still about an hour before we were actually heading out to the beach. And guess what? Three out of six of us still got a sunburn.
So, the next day when we went out to the beach, it took us even longer to put on sunscreen, we did it with more urgency, and more accuracy, knowing the consequences would be painful if we cut that task short in our enthusiasm for getting out to the beach.
By the time we got to the beach we had driven for 19 hours cumulatively. We had loaded our van twice and unloaded it twice. We had moved into a different house, learned our way around a new kitchen, and then, when it was finally time to step out into the sand and the waves, it took us over an hour to get ready.
Every time we went to the beach it was clear that it was worth all of the time, all of the trouble, all of the stuff moving, house to car, car to house, house to beach, beach to house, over and over again. It was even worth all of the sunscreen. But during all of the steps of the process, there might have been moments when it certainly seemed simpler just to stay in the house, where it was cool and protected from the sun, and where we could gaze on the ocean from afar.
Our Old Testament reading for today is from one of my favorite parts of the Bible. In fact, I love this part of the Bible so much that before we were locked down, I was teaching a Bible Study on it.
The part of the Bible that today’s reading is from is called Second Isaiah. It encompasses Isaiah chapters 40-55. The prophet who wrote this work of prophecy did not include his name or any autobiographical information with his work of prophecy. Later biblical editors added his work of prophecy, to the work of Isaiah of Jerusalem, who wrote chapters 1-39 of what we know of as the biblical book of Isaiah, and who lived about 200 years before the prophet who wrote the prophecies in Isaiah 40-55.
The prophet who wrote second Isaiah addressed his work to the Jewish people who were living in exile in Babylon.
Judah’s encounter with the Babylonian empire is described in detail in the book of Jeremiah. The events of the Babylonian exile are also summed up in this passage from 2 Chronicles:
Zedekiah, [the king of Judah]