Sermon Reflections for East Africa (Sunday, September 25th)

Every Tuesday until Advent, LWR will be posting brief theological reflections on the upcoming Sunday’s Lectionary readings. This resource is intended to help pastors find touch points between Sunday preaching and the current crisis in East Africa. For more resources to engage your congregation with this famine go to where you can find a PDF of all of these sermon reflections between now and Advent.

September 25th, 2011

(Ezekiel 18:1-4,25-32, Psalms 25:1-9, Philippians 2:1-13, Matthew 21:23-32)

When we come upon a scene that seems to be out of control a typical first reaction is “Who’s in charge here!?!” In the Gospel the chief priests ask this about a seemingly out of control teacher in their midst. Looking upon the scene at the refugee camps in the midst of the famine in East Africa, it can be tempting to ask this question. We see close to 1,200 pouring into these camps everyday, 12.4 million affected by shortages of food and water that will cost (at recent estimates) $2.4 billion to respond to. “Who is in charge here?!”

The parable which Jesus follows this question points us toward the one in charge. It is God; only the God proclaimed in the Gospel would work through the initial son who refuses the father’s instructions. Only the God proclaimed in the Gospel would work through the tax-collectors and prostitutes that listen to John. And only the God proclaimed in the Gospel would work through people as broken and in need of forgiveness as us to respond to such a deep need as what we see now in the Horn of Africa.

Authority to do the work of the Kingdom of God in places of such desperate and dire need as the Horn of Africa comes from God’s calling and God’s presence. The first son did not just hop to it and listen the first time and prove himself worthy, but he came around and the calling was still there. And even after the chief priests saw the presence of Christ for themselves they did not believe. Here in this place we receive that call again and again, and have Christ in our midst. How is this divine authority calling us to respond to such desperate need in the world?

To carry out a long-term response to this crisis, aimed at helping farmers recover their crops and agricultural livelihoods and reducing people’s vulnerability to future crises, LWR must raise $3 million by the end of 2011. Your congregation can be an important part of that by taking up the Feeding 5,000 Challenge. For resources to help connect them with LWR’s emergency response in East Africa go to or call 1-800-597-5972.