Sermon Reflections for East Africa (Sunday, October 9th)

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 9th, 2011

(Isaiah 25:1-9, Psalm 23, Philippians 4:1-9, Matthew 22:1-14) 

The heart of this Sunday’s Gospel is in the reversals. First, those worthy of invitation to a king’s feast “made light of it” and rebuff the offer. The king responds to this first reversal with a reversal of his own: he invites, literally, “street people”—“both good and bad”—to the banquet, inviting as many as his servants can find (v. 9). Who are the street people in our midst? The splendid reversal of this parable is the revelation that they were invited to this feast before we were. This includes the thousands now gathered in the Dadabb refugee camps in eastAfrica. They are invited to God’s feast before we are. If anything, we’re crashing in on their party.

The prayer that these refugees sing as we enter their celebration may sound a lot like the first reading for this day (Isaiah 25:1-9, especially vs. 1-5). They sing with Isaiah’s refrain: “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.”

But what to make of the final reversal, the “speechless” friend thrown out for forgetting his robe? The key is to understand that the robe was not his own. It was a free gift of the king. To not wear it is to deliberately refuse the king’s generosity, to defy grace. (Ironically, such wedding customs still exist in places not far from East Africa.) Of course, such generous grace is only made possible by the One who himself was bound “hand and foot” and left to the die in the “outer darkness” of a hill outside Jerusalem. How do we respond to this grace and put to good use the free gifts given to us by our Lord?

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.