Standing At The Shores Of God’s Love

This morning’s sermon … enjoy!

Isaiah 55:1-9
Psalm 63:1-8

Standing At The Shore Of God’s Love

Everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters.

A Roman Catholic priest, an Anglican priest and a protestant minister were standing near a river talking and started arguing about which one of their churches followed God’s teachings the closest. The Catholic priest said that the argument was pointless, that clearly the Roman Catholic Church had the closest connection to the Apostles and therefore followed God’s teachings the closest. He even went on to say that because he was so close to God, he could even walk on water like Jesus did. And so – to make his point – he proceeded to walk across the river to the other side.

The Anglican priest looked at the protestant minister and told him that the Anglican church was very similar in structure to the Catholic church and then he, too, proceeded to walk across the river to the other side.

The protestant minister called from across the river. “I do not care what the origins of your church are! I study God’s word, I preach from the Bible every week and I try to live faithfully.” And – in an attempt to prove his point – the minister stepped forward towards the water. He immediately sank knee-deep into the river.

Across the river, the Catholic priest leaned over to the Anglican priest and said, “Do you think we should tell him where the rocks are?”

The prophet Isaiah said, “Everyone – EVERYONE – who thirsts, come to the waters.” All who seek God’s goodness, mercy and grace, Isaiah said, come. Come to God’s living, healing and vibrant waters. Come to the waters of God’s creating, redeeming and sustaining love. Everyone who thirsts – Catholic or Protestant, Religious or Spiritual, male or female, old or young, black or white – come to the waters.

Isaiah was addressing a group of exiles in the sixth century when he spoke these words. They had been conquered, their lives had been completely turned upside down and they were under extreme distress. And yet Isaiah invited them to come to the waters; he invited them to come – even without money – and buy food to eat and drinks to quench their thirst. “Buy wine and milk,” Isaiah said, “and delight yourself in rich food.”

Wine … milk … rich food – these words describe a meal of plenty that a group of exiles would never have been able to even begin to comprehend. Their thirst and their hunger were tangible and great. They needed simple and basic necessities; but Isaiah was offering them a feast of abundance.

What a perfect metaphor for God’s love! If you think about it, all we ever really need are the simple and basic necessities; a simple and basic expression of God’s presence in our lives. But God always seems to offer us more. God always seems to provide an abundance of his goodness, mercy and grace just when we need it most. God’s love for us flows like a fast-moving river; it pours over us like water released from a dam; it is an oasis found in the middle of a dry and parched desert. The waves that crash along the shore of God’s love create a beach of absolute peace along the journeys that we are taking.

To stand on the shores of God’s love is to know that you are never alone, that you are redeemed for your imperfections and that you will be given strength when you are weak.

I know this is easy for us to say and to believe when good things are happening, when the pieces of our lives have come together and visible blessings abound around us. But we have all gone through moments in our lives when it feels like there are simply no blessings to be found; our faith has been challenged and God has – at times – felt distant. These are the moments when we feel parched; when our yearning for God’s love if so great that we wonder if that thirst will ever been quenched.

But these are the moments when we need to seek God out. “O God, you are my God,” says this morning’s psalm. “I seek you, my soul thirsts for you.”

Sometimes the moments when we need God the most are the moments when it is most difficult to seek him out. And so we need to remember those words from the prophet Isaiah – “everyone who thirsts, come to the waters” – as a reminder that need to stand on the shores of God’s love.. We need to look away from our earthly fears and challenges and look towards God. We need to trust that our thirst will be quenched, that God’s love will bring us through the difficult moments in our lives. This morning’s psalm reminds us of this. “My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,” the psalmist writes. “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

I came across an essay the other day written by Jim Wallis, who is an author, theologian, political advocate and founder and CEO of Sojourners, a monthly Christian publication. The essay, called “Faith Works”, is part of a book edited by Paul Loeb called “The Impossible Will Take A Little While.” In his essay, Wallis writes:

Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, then watching the evidence change. That’s what I’ve learned after almost three decades of working for change as a person of faith. What do I mean by faith? I like the definition used by the biblical writer of the Letter to the Hebrews: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Simply put, faith makes hope possible. And hope is the single most important ingredient for changing the world.

Wallis is right. When it seems like the wells of our souls are dry, we have to believe that God will meet us at the font of living water and fill us up with creating goodness, redeeming mercy and sustaining grace.

We have to believe this; when we live in a world as crazy as this one, we have no other choice.

And so now I invite everyone – EVERYONE – to meet me on the shores of God’s love.

Come wherever you are on your journey through life. Come with questions and come with answers. Come with faith and come with doubts. Come with love and come with anger. Come with hope and come with despair. Come as a child and come as an adult. Come if you are spiritual and come if you are religious. Come if you are rich and come if you are poor.

Come as you are.

Come. Meet me on the shores of God’s love.

We will come needing very little.

But God will give us plenty.

Come. Meet me on the shores of God’s love.

Let your thirst be quenched.

Come. Meet me on the shores of God’s love.

Seek God. Cling to God. Be touched by God.

Come. Meet me on the shores of God’s love.

Be satisfied.

Come. Meet me on the shores of God’s love.

We are all welcome there.

Thanks be to God!

Amen.

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