Sunday, December 12, 2021
Pastor Deb Kielsmeier
Today is our very last Sunday of our Old Testament journey. In September we began with the wonder of creation and have seen God’s faithfulness through all the twists and turns of Israel’s history. From Abraham and Sarah, to slavery in Egypt, through the wilderness wanderings and into the Promised Land. We heard the prophets calling, watched Kings rise and fall, and saw the temple built and destroyed. And now, only the southern kingdom of Judah remains… and she is still in the darkness of exile.
And they had been in exile for a long, long time. Seventy years to be exact. The people were tired. Really tired. From decade upon decade of hardship, struggle, and strain. Where was God? And all those promises God made? Was that just a fairy tale? Wishful thinking?
I don’t know about you, but sometimes – when life is hard, and nothing seems to ever change – It is easy to wonder, where is God? God has promised to be with us – and yet – our reality can be tough. Barren. Dark. Cold. Like a long mid-winter night during a pandemic. Is God even here? Does God hear our cries? Will a new future ever come?
But then. There!
On the horizon, breaking forth….
Do you hear it?
A voice ringing out -–like a hawker in the marketplace…
Ho –Ho! Listen. Everyone!
Are you thirsty? Come to the waters.
You! Yes you, everyone! You are invited. You don’t need money.
There is water for refreshment. Milk for strength. Wine for joy.
Come, delight yourself in the “richest of fare” –
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Come and Listen to me – That you might TRULY live.
Wow. Who wouldn’t run into that future?
But many who were born and raised in Babylon were reluctant. Hesitant to leave the houses they built and the lives they knew. And so, they clung to the meager crumbs for which they had worked so hard.
Why? Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? They were throwing away their very lives for what? It would never last. Never satisfy.
It is a fitting question. As apt for us today as it ever was in ancient times.
We chase after and work so hard for the things we think will bring happiness.
Or security. Or meaning:
a place on the team,
a new house or car,
a promotion at work,
a slimmer body
a new relationship
or an exciting vacation…
All good things. Very good things. And yes, they bring joy, meaning and satisfaction… for a while. But in time, we begin to wonder. Wait, is this all there is? Somehow life is not all we dreamed it would be. And so, we double down, work harder, chase harder, or just numb out on binge watching, drink, or distractions to ignore the emptiness.
Blaise Pascal was a french mathematician and philosopher who lived in the 15th c. He famously wrote that within each of us is a deep “abyss” that can only filled by God. Some have called it a vacuum that is God-shaped. We can try stuffing cars and iPhones and promotions into that aching void. But ultimately, there is only One who can truly satisfy.
Ho, Ho! The voice cries out…
Are you thirsty? Come. Come to the waters. Drink deeply from living water which flows from the heart of God.
Are you hungry? Come. Come to the banquet. Feast upon in the true bread of heaven.
Are you empty? Aching? Weary? Come. Come and be filled. To overflowing. With the only one who can truly satisfy.
You are invited.
All this drinking and chewing and swallowing imagery is rather interesting, isn’t it?
It reminds me of a bible study a few years ago, during which the women around the table were sharing their faith stories. Judy told us that she was raised in a Christian home and grew up in church learning about Jesus and God’s love for her. She believed – but was basically up in her head. An “intellectual assent,” as they say in seminary. But then, she said, “One day, I swallowed.” A few eyebrows shot up… What? But she explained. I believed in my head, but one day I swallowed and took Christ into my whole self…into my heart, my life, my everything. And it has made all the difference.”
I love the imagery. She believed, but when she finally swallowed or opened her life -her everything – to God and drank deeply of God’s love – it made all the difference.
Here we are at the very end of our Old Testament journey – standing with the exiles at the edge of Babylon. It was hard for some of them to leave. But God’s voice was calling. Calling them to come home again. To move out, into a new future. Filled with water, bread, and wine. Filled with life, with light, and hope.
It is God’s future is on that horizon.
It is not about more stuff. It has nothing to do with more things.
It isn’t about striving to hold onto hard earned crumbs that will never satisfy.
It is God’s future that is coming –
It is breaking in. Here and now. Into every heart. Into every life that will receive him.
God’s future is now.
Can you see it? For unto us, a son is given… living water, the bread of heaven. The life – the future – you were created for.
Come, now…. step into God’s future,
12 For you shall go out in joy,
and be led home in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
And all God’s children said – AMEN.