Come to the Waters

Isaiah 55:1-9, Luke 12:49-13:9

Please join me in this Lenten prayer:

Now, O Lord, calm us into quietness. Take us to that place within You that heals, listens, and molds our longings and passions, our wounds and wanderings, and transforms us into a more holy human shape. For it is in You that we live and move and have our being[1]. Amen.

Have you ever been in a place where the climate sucks the moisture out of you so craftily that you slowly become dehydrated without realizing it? I’ve hiked a couple trails in Oregon that did that to me. In retrospect, I wish there had been signs like I’ve read they have in the Grand Canyon National Park, signs that say “Stop! Drink water. You are thirsty, whether you realize it or not.”

I know we’re not as dry as Fossil, Oregon or the lower 50 miles of the Rogue River in summer, but the last couple of weekends I’ve stayed overnight here in Trout Lake, I’ve been skiing after church up toward the mountain. I took my platypus pack with at least two liters of water in it, just in case. Both times, I drank more than I thought I needed to, and ended up at the end of the day soaked – and not from spilling water on myself.

In reflecting on today’s message from Isaiah, commentator Daniel Debevoise writes,

“How could it be that we do not recognize our own thirst?  There are times when we are intensely aware of our needs and desires, including the things we thirst for, and other times when we do not feel the need or desire for anything in particular. Isaiah’s words are like the sign in a dry climate—‘Stop! Drink water. You are thirsty, whether you realize it or not.’ … Isaiah is telling us something true about ourselves at every moment of our lives.”[2]

We might ruminate on that a bit. “Isaiah is telling us something true about ourselves at every moment of our lives….” To put Isaiah further in context, is a strung out set of writings, sometimes split into three books by scholars. Today’s passage is at the crux between what is termed the second and third books of Isaiah.

At this point, the people of Israel are deported citizens of their homeland, far from home, living under Babylonian rule. Hold that in your mind for a moment, and consider that the promises related by Isaiah are direct answers for those exilic people who are thirsty for waters of hope – hope for restoration of their homeland, home for their future as a unique people. Commentator Richard Puckett writes,

“…The central message to be proclaimed is the extraordinary nature and dependability of God’s promises. Even in the strangeness of a faraway land and in the face of the power of our foes, God promises a restoration and renewal beyond our previous condition. While we may not be able to see the possibility or understand the way, God’s word will accomplish its purpose.”[3]

In the spirit of the Lenten season and the Lenten disciple of self-reflection, let me ask you this: What is it you thirst for? There are so many offers to slack your thirst, aren’t there? Offers and enticements “fill every imaginable want and desire…a new car, a new computer, a glamorous vacation, [a bigger trailer], a youthful appearance…”

Oops…it’s a good thing Lent comes along and challenges us to “consider the reality of our own sinfulness and our need for repentance. We may not be immediately aware of how we have wandered away from God – how life has lost its meaning in pursuit of” this or that thing that we have been told or convinced we simply need or must have.

Let me re-ask that question. What is it you thirst for? Notice I did not say what should you thirst for? Part of the Lenten discipline of examining one’s self is to sort through what it is that we can let go of and what it is we really thirst for.

As Debevoise reminds us, “Isaiah’s words help us to hear the truth so that we can recommit ourselves to God’s offer of steadfast love and covenant relationship as the true way for our lives.”[4]

May all glory be unto the One who lived, died, and rose again for us; even Him who is the Head of our Church, Jesus Christ. Amen? May it be so.

[1] Adapted from a poem by Ted Loder

[2] Debevoise, Daniel M. Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary – Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide.

[3] Puckett, Richard A. Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary – Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide.

[4] Debevoise, Daniel M. Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary – Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide.

Questions for Reflection

Luke 13:1–9 tells the story of a fruitless g tree that the owner is ready to cut down. The gardener, however, asks for a little more time. The gardener wants to tend and cultivate the soil in the hope that figs may yet grow. The gardener is open to a different future for this tree, in spite of its present condition. Think about your own life, or the life of someone you love, in relationship to this story: What needs special tending? What will cultivate the “soil” of daily life so that new growth, new possibilities, might emerge? And what can you learn from this gardener about allowing for a different outcome, a new possibility?

Household Prayer: Morning

Gracious God, this new day carries the potential for growth and new life. Help me to attend to those things in me
that need care and attention. Sow your word in me
that I may grow in faithfulness and understanding. Shake me out of dull routines, so that I may take part in the good news
you continue to tell urgently and passionately. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Household Prayer: Evening

As I lie down this night in the shadow of your wings, God of my life, I know that you will be with me
even as you have helped me through this day. Whether I am weary from the day, or whether the day has been a rich feast of blessings, I give thanks for your power and glory, which are present in every circumstance. As I give myself over to rest and sleep, I remember that your steadfast love is better than life. So, I pray, surround me with your love tonight and always. In the peace of Christ I pray. Amen.

About Scottrick

Parent ~ Pastor ~ Poet ~ Author
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