Sermon Reflections for East Africa (Sunday, October 16th)

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.

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

(Isaiah 45:1-7, Psalm 96:1-9, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, Matthew 22:15-22)

“Give to God the things that are God’s.”  How might our offerings to God be given for the sake of God’s people who are hurting and suffering and literally starving around the world?  Giving to God has great impact. For example, dollars given to Lutheran World Relief pass along life changing preventative measures for malaria, provide life-sustaining water, and deliver quilts for comfort and warmth.  The question we might ask ourselves in light of today’s Gospel is:  How much do we “give to God” so others can survive?  In other words, how much will we contribute so that others might live?

This can be a daunting question when we face it on our own, but the gospel for today reminds us that our possessions are already God’s, He is already acting through them and calling them into the work of his kingdom. Our choice is only to let go of them and allow what we have been given to enter into the streams of mercy that are flowing into places like the Dadabb Refugee Camps where victims of the East Africa famine come looking for help.

Isaiah’s declaration of extreme monotheism in today’s Old Testament reading reinforces this reality that it is God’s action that we are invited into being a part of. “I will go before you and level the mountains,” says the Lord, so given the gifts (both of resources and talents) how will we follow God into these places of need?

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.