Sunday, August 02, 2020

Isaiah 55:1-3; Ninth Sunday after Pentecost; August 2, 2020;

Isaiah 55:1-3; Ninth Sunday after Pentecost; August 2, 2020;

Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN;

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

So, have you ever been really thirsty? Or really hungry? I don’t mean just a little, I mean really, really thirsty; hot, and dry and parched. Your tongue gets thick and stiff, and sticks to your teeth and the roof of your mouth. Your lips crack and if you lick them, they just get more dry instead of less. You can pull dry layers of skin from them, too. Even your eyes seem to be dry and the wind burns in them. That’s dry. How about hungry that’s more than just a little rumble in your stomach. I remember a time when I worked for my cousin on his garbage truck. It was a cold January day. He was sick and needed someone to help run the route. I bundled up and made the rounds. It was a smelly, dirty, exhausting job. But what I remember most was lunchtime. I had worked extremely hard and I was very hungry and very thirsty. Lunch was packed for us… a large jar of water, clear and wet, and simple cheese and mayo sandwiches. I drank the water like I never had before. And never had cheese and mayo tasted so good. We ate and napped and then went back to work. It was a long and hard day.

Hunger and thirst are universally understood. Everyone’s been hungry and thirsty at sometime in their life. There are some who are always hungry and always thirsty, they are literally starving. It’s sad to realize that there is well enough food to feed everyone, and yet millions are on their way to death from starvation. It is particularly difficult to see when it involves young children.

The children of Israel were thirsty and hungry, too. After settling into the Promised Land they had basically ignored God, the one who had rescued them from Egyptian slavery, and given them the land. They went through the motions, but it was empty worship. It was empty action without real meaning. Isaiah asked them “Who’s your real king? Are you trusting in earthly kings, are you trusting in foreign kings? You shouldn’t be you should be trusting in your God.” But, life went on for them. They ignored Isaiah’s pleas to the people to return to the true king, God, YHWH the one who had chosen them and saved them.

“Watch out!” He said. “Babylon is coming, and you are going to be taken into exile. Everything you have now, your wealth, your families, and even land is going to be taken from you. You will be taken to a far away land.” His words went unheeded… Babylon came and conquered the land and the people, and the survivors were hauled off into slavery and exile. Earthly things and kings had failed them. They had lost everything. They were thirsty and hungry for things to be different.

You see, Isaiah wasn’t talking about a famine where food and water were scarce; he was talking about spiritual hunger and thirst. And that too is something we understand. The world is thirsty and hungry, actually starving to death, and not even aware of why. People everyday search for meaning in their lives. They go to every well and banquet they can find. What they are experiencing doesn’t seem all that bad, it is a less immediate hunger and thirst, but it is no less dangerous. Famine and drought are common today, even in areas (especially?) where there is plenty to eat and drink. If you know and watch people at all you know you don’t have to look far to find emptiness. For lots of people life is a void, an undefined dissatisfaction with the way things are, even though they have all they could ever want or need. Most people that we come into contact with every day are filled with good, and yet they feel that something is lacking. People today are spiritually hungry and thirsty. Many are actually starving and parched, even in the midst of plenty. In their search for satisfaction people stuff themselves with a steady diet of spiritual junk food. Sects and cults have never been more popular. There is a constant demand for spiritual gurus and advisors. People are turning to television personalities to answer spiritual questions of life and death. But the food they are eating is food without spiritual value. And the drink they are guzzling doesn’t quench their thirst. In fact, they are overweight from eating, and still starving. They are waterlogged from drinking and dying from dehydration. It is all poison. Instead of leading of to health, it all leads to death.

Jackie was happy, she thought, and yet something was still missing. She had been happily married for so long, it was difficult to remember a time when she wasn’t a wife. Her children were grown and successful and happy. She had everything she needed and most everything she wanted. Her husband was highly successful, too. They were comfortable, if not well off. But ever increasingly she felt as if something was missing. There was a vague dissatisfaction in her life but she just couldn’t put her finger on what it was. It was a longing for something unknown and illusive.

Jackie had many friends and acquaintances. Gloria seemed very much like her. But there was a difference. Very frequently she had invited Jackie to attend a bible study with her. Finally, she gave in for the sole reason of being able to say that she had tried it, and put the request to sleep for good. At the gathering one of the women read this text.

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. Isaiah 55:1-3

Jackie was startled. Were the words talking to her? Is that what her problem was? Is that why she felt so empty? Was she spending her life in pursuit of things that didn’t really satisfy? What exactly was being offered in those words that would fill the emptiness?

Maybe today you are hungry and thirsty, too. You’ve had questions about running here and there trying to do everything that needs to be done, and yet you wonder if it’s all worth it. Year after year you do the same thing, standing on the assembly floor, sitting in the tractor seat, cleaning the same carpet, feeding hogs in the same building. Work has provided you with everything you need, and most of what you want. It’s all going very well, but maybe you’ve said to yourself there has to be more. So, you do more. Social clubs, sports teams, fair boards, and more… but there is still that little emptiness in there, a thirsting for more, a hunger that isn’t ever really quite satisfied. I’ve been there too. It’s an easy place to get to. It’s easy to be hungry and wanting, and thirsty for what seems elusive.

I’ve got good news for you. No, I’m not going to pass around a jug of water, and some cheese sandwiches. Actually, Isaiah has good news for you. It’s the same good news he had for the people of Israel. Remember they were hungry and thirsty, too. “Come all who are thirsty…” he said to them. You’ve forgotten who your true King is, you are wondering around looking for something you can’t find. Come to your God and King and he will satisfy you. He is what you’ve crowded out of your life with all of life’s troubles and problems, wants and desires.

God is there for you to calling to you to come… It’s not that you don’t know who he is, and what he has done for you in Jesus Christ, but it’s easy to let “more practical” concerns set Jesus aside. I’ll get back to Jesus when I have time. But, before you know it your thirsty again, and hungry for that missing something. The missing something is Jesus.

Remember the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. She was drawing water for drinking. Jesus asked her for a drink.

“I can’t do that,” she said, “I’m an outcast and you’re not. I a Samaritian.”

Jesus answered her; “If you knew who I am you’d be asking me for living water. Anyone who drinks of it will never be thirsty again.”

“That’s the water I want! I’d not have to make tiring trips to the well every day.”

“Go get your husband.”

“I don’t have one.” She answered.

“Yes, I know.” Jesus said, “You’ve had 5 husbands and now your living with a man. It looks to me like you want more than just water from this well. You won’t find what you’re looking for it in those men. You’ll find it in me.”

It’s when we find our life lacking, when we are hungry and thirsty that we hear the words of Isaiah and Jesus as Good News. What is truly and finally satisfying is a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the bread of life. He gives the water of life. He has a never-ending banquet of food and drink. With Jesus “my cup overflows.” When we partake of Jesus Christ, through faith, we are not disappointed. He gives us what we really need: The Bread of God.

Here in this place God feeds us with the Good News about Jesus Christ. Here we are fed by words that travel through the air to reach us and tell us what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. How he fills that elusive empty feeling, that space that can’t be filled. He shed his blood for you and he did it so that you’d never be hungry and thirsty again. He took your sins to the cross and sacrificed himself there for you, so that you could have a relationship with him forever.

But, God knows you need more than just colorful metaphors about his promises for you. He knows that your diet needs real food and real drink. It’s easy to say, “Come to me and I’ll give you what you need.” He does more than that; he actually gives you something to eat. And he gives it right here. Open up your hand and in it, God gives you the very Bread of Life. “Take and eat this is my body… take and drink this is my blood.” It’s more than just spiritual, ghostly eating. It’s real and physical. We receive Jesus in his body and in his blood right there in the bread and wine. God gives us food that is more than food, and drink that is more than drink. This is the blood of the covenant given for you for the forgiveness of sins.

While we live in this world, we’ll always be hungry and thirsty. We can’t get rid of our craving for food that doesn’t satisfy. Jesus gives us food that satisfies. Wholesome bread and living water to take care of what we need, and also to remind us of the time when we will be with him, sitting and eating and drinking in the banquet that will never end. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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