Let All who are Thirsty come…
Let All who are thirsty
Isaiah 55:1-9 1 Corinthians 10;1-13 Luke 13:1-9
The Old Testament reading today has set playing in my head one of my favourite Taize chants – it happens to be an English one too – Let all Who are thirsty come, let all who will receive the water of life, freely, Amen, come Lord Jesus…
Everyone who thirsts, everyone…
Those without money, those who cannot afford to eat, here is the offer of your life – it’s not a BOGOF, a cut price, a few savings off your shopping,
This offer is the real deal, the offer of life itself,
Last week we talked about the covenant that God made with Abram, the promise of descendents, the promise of life, continuing on,
We talked about the covenant he makes with us all in Jesus, the promise of sins forgiven, death defeated and life with God, in all its fullness.
Today we read God’s offer of a covenant again,
And here in the passage Isaiah gives the promise of God a different twist, a different emphasis, 1500 years before the birth of Christ he opens up this promise,
“ you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you”
Abraham was promised that he would be the father of nations,
From his perspective this looked like an unlikely scenario, being the father of one son seemed to elude him for rather a long while –
The idea of not only being the father of nations but of those nations being “ unknown” ie not descended from him, would have seemed completely crazy.
Isaiah refers to King David, the great King of Israel, with whom God once more renewed and revealed his covenant.
David was no plaster saint though, his life was no model of how to behave, but God used him as “ a witness to the peoples”
God’s call to covenant life here is clearly being opened up to everyone –and it really is to everyone
Already in this passage we have heard the call of God to the poor –those who have no money,
To the foreigners –nations we do not know, to the wicked and the unrighteous…
God reminds us when we’re inclined to get precious that he doesn’t think like us, his plans & his ways might be different to ours –his love & his call is inclusive.
The Jewish people regarded themselves as covenant people,
It was them with whom God had made that covenant through Abraham, and again with Isaac & Jacob, with Moses, with David…
It was their people who had been given the law and knew what it was God required of them.
To hear this precious covenant of God being opened out was a tough call.
Prophets have to reimagine, they have to speak out what God is saying – in a subversive and imaginative way – staying true to what they know and understand of Gods plans, his calling and his truth,
Isaiah is doing just that here –
God’s covenant, his love, his promises are not just for a small group of people,
They were not then, and they are not now.
Even right at the start, God promises to Abraham descendents like the grains of sand, the stars in the sky.
Unimaginable, huge numbers,
A net cast wide, a promise for all.
Isaiah begins to speak out this vision, to reimagine these promises of old
Let ALL who are thirsty
All of you
Jew or foreigner,
Rich or Poor
Righteous or unrighteous
All who seek God, All who thirst for the knowledge of his love
It is so easy for us today in the church to narrow our field of vision.
It must have been so hard for the Jewish people to hear “ nations you do not know “
Its hard for the church, for us also to hear that widening of God’s call.
We can look around us and shut out the understanding that the good news is for the poor
And the homeless,
It’s for the single mum on benefits and the dad who is out of work and desperate
It’s for the couple with the alternative lifestyle
And for those who don’t know who they are
It’s for men,
Rich and poor
Those who think they have everything and those who know they have nothing.
None of us are any better or any worse than any one else –all of us are thirsty travellers who need what God offers to us, the water of life, freely given, the food to delight in,
In the epistle reading Paul reflects on the journey of the Jewish people, the wrong they fell into, the ups & downs of their journey, the physical and the spiritual thirst that they experienced. It mioght be easy to feel slightly superior..
But then he reminds his readers
“But if you think you are standing, be careful that you do not fall”
We’re all the same, we all are as weak & frail as the next person, in need of God’s grace, his living water.
The theme is taken up again in the gospel reading.
Are those who suffer, -here murdered Galileans and those who died in a collapsing building –
Are they being punished? Are they worse than the rest of us, did they deserve what came to them?
NO says Jesus, we are ALL of us in need of repentance, and turning back to God,
All of us have the opportunity for that second chance – like the fig tree, which was dug round and well nourished, to give it another opportunity to live and grow.
Within the church and our world it is so easy to “grade” people,
To make judgement calls on whether someone is worth more, or is more worthy.
God doesn’t do this –thankfully
We’re all in need of his grace, but we’re also all infinitely valued,
It doesn’t matter if we are natives or foreigners
( and whether that’s about national borders or whether you’re a true Forester or not!)
It doesn’t matter if we’re rich or poor –All of us are invited to drink, to seek God.
I talked earlier about Isaiah’s prophetic voice.
More than ever today in the church we need prophetic voices once more.
The voice that speaks out Gods truth,
That subverts the received wisdom of our time
That re imagines how our world can look, how Gods love can heal and bring wholeness.
That re energises how we God’s people can act to make this happen.
We need once more the voices who call out for justice & equality.
Who know that that means we may not stay comfortable, or safe, but that in moving forward we enable everyone to come to the waters, to drink.
God’s grace, God’s covenant love God’s water of life is given to us freely.
It is given to All, and we cannot stand in the way of that
We need to be those voices, those activists, those prophets who speak out -and in doing so we challenge not only those around us but ourselves too. It’s a challenge to turn, to live for God, to repent and to know that we all need to, but that we are all given God’s grace too.
We need to speak out and live out what Jesus did.
Gods message of hope and welcome
A story of covenant promises, kept over & over again, opening and widening to bring All who are thirsty to drink of the living water. That All might live.