It is in our sitting and eating and drinking with God
that we are transformed, renewed and refreshed.
The doctor says; “Take the green pill with two big glasses of water when you get up. An hour later, take the white pill with another glass of water. Then take the blue pill with a big glass of water after lunch. Mid afternoon, make sure you drink the entire glass of water when take the orange pill, and repeat that again at dinner. Then, just before going to bed, do the same but with the red pill.”
The man is alarmed at huge volume of medicine he has been given to take, and nervously asks, “What’s the diagnosis? What’s wrong with me?” The doctor replies, “You’re dehydrated.”
Which takes us to the question for this morning: Who here is thirsty? Or better yet, what is it that you are actually thirsty for?
In Flint they are thirsty for clean drinking water. In California, they are thirsty for any water. And yet here in Greenville, we get to drink and use as much water as we want. The Prophet Isaiah says, “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters.”
He instructs us to: “Come” and “see” and “listen” so that we can “be filled and live.” Anyone who knows me, knows that I am thirsty all the time. After thirty-three rounds of radiation to my neck and jaw, my saliva glands are pretty well cooked. And so I carry around a bottle of water with me everywhere I go.
Last Thursday, after shoveling the snow off the driveway, my body was both tired and drenched with sweat. What a strange sensation it is to stand in the snowy cold, perspiring and dying of thirst. While my kids rushed inside for hot chocolate, I reached for long swig of water. I was thirsty.
In contrast, there along the dry trails in the Grand Canyon are signs strategically placed that read: “Stop! Drink water. You are thirsty, whether you realize it or not.”
I believe Isaiah’s words call out to us all like a billboard along a hot, dusty highway. It reads, “Hey, stop and drink up what God has to give you.” He reminds us that we all thirst for something more than we can give ourselves.
This morning, As we move forward with our Lenten series, Standing firm on the promises of God, we are going to look at God's grace.
The Prophet describes it... like a divine grocery store, where you fill up your shopping cart with all the stuff you need to sustain your life...and then you can leave without paying for any of it. It seems almost too good to be true. Like you're gonna get outside and the police pounce on you for shoplifting.
St Augustine teaches us that such a priceless gift would be meaningless if we entered the store with a full shopping cart. In other words if we are going to receive God’s grace, then we must first repent, and empty ourselves before the Lord. So to Augustine's point, we must come with empty hands in order to take what God has to offer.
In Luke's gospel Jesus gives us the choice, “Repent or perish!” He is the living example of God's steadfast love and grace. Through Jesus Christ, God comes to do what the world cannot. Wherever we are, God is ready to meet us in our sin, and brokenness, and failures. God wants to fill us with abundance of grace, to replenish our supply and renew our soul.
Today's readings remind us that God has come with a sense of great purpose and urgency. Standing among our mess...Jesus warns us that there is not a lot of time to waste; either get rid of your old ways and begin to produce the fruit of the kingdom, or else perish like a dead tree taking up valuable space.
Isaiah is a little softer with his words. But he too tells us that time is important when he poetically implores us to, "seek the Lord while he can be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their ways, and the unrighteous their thoughts; return to the Lord, so that he will show them mercy, and abundantly pardon them.”
Lent is a time to call upon God. It’s a time to rely upon God’s grace. It’s a time for each of us to fast from the things that pull us away from God, and feast on a life changing relationship with God. It is in this relationship, in our sitting and eating and drinking with God that we are transformed, renewed and refreshed.
“So what then,” Isaiah asks, “are we wasting our money on?” Why do we continue to rush past God to buy something that is not bread? Or labor for something that does not satisfy? Without being in a real covenant relationship with God, our best-laid plans miss the mark and our true thirst will never be quenched. I believe we all have deeper longings; a thirsty soul that needs to be attended.
But the world is loud with signs that distract us, filling our carts with useless junk. Everyday we are offered the promises of a better life if we only had a newer car, a smarter phone, a faster computer, less wrinkles or a better body. Such things only offer us bigger fears, better shame and uglier guilt.
I know, just as you do, that physical beauty, like material wealth or goods, has a shelf life. It’s temporary, unsustainable, and eventually runs out. We can chase after things to replenish the supply, but any like alcoholic will tell you, there is never enough. So why do we continue give the best of ourselves to the things that can never love us back?
How many times do we have to be reminded that addressing earthly longings with human ideals will not solve the deeper thirst of the soul? Our spiritual thirst can only be truly quenched in a spiritual relationship with God through Jesus Christ who asks, "Do you want to live a life of abundant new fruit?" The choice is ours, he says, "Repent or perish."
Jesus speaks with urgency because he knows how quickly most of us are destroying ourselves. Life is too short to waste another minute on what can never love us back. The human spirit has failed to bear good fruit for far too long, choosing instead to focus on those things that will not bring us true joy. God wants better for us. Don't you?
God calls us into a new life, and this life will begin only when we put our spiritual houses—and our priorities—back in order. Through Christ, God makes a covenant promise with us...A promise of grace and mercy to all who call out to the Lord. It's a promise that says come to the table, see the bounty, and receive your fill. Only when we embrace God’s call on our lives...will we be replenished and find that we can once again bear spiritual fruit.
Who’s thirsty? As we let go of our indulgences to become closer to God, we begin to spend better time with God; drinking his wine and eating his bread; quenching our thirst and satisfying our needs with something greater than we can give ourselves. The time is now.
Come, see, listen, and stand firm on the promise of God’s grace. Call upon God and confess your faith. And your sins will be forgiven. Come and empty yourself before the Lord Jesus Christ...and be filled with God's abundant grace. Come, and your spiritual thirst will be quenched. For God turns no thirsty soul away.
To that bit of good news...we all get our fill...and are able let out a very satisfying...Amen.
Works Cited Bible, NRSV. Isaiah 55:1-7; Luke 13:1-9.
Bartlett, David L, Barbara Brown Taylor. ed. Feasting on the Word: Year C, Vol. 2. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009. Special thanks to Daniel M. Debevoise for his contribution to the idea of this sermon.
Heath, Emily C. "Living by the Word." christiancentury.org. February 9, 2016.
Jokes (whether you found them funny or not) were culled from the internet.