Sunday, June 29, 2014

Welcome! Come, All You Who Thirst!

Who would ever think that a cool, refreshing bottle of water would be just the thing to offer someone in welcome? This bottle is nothing special. It’s just a thin plastic bottle filled with clean, filtered water. And yet there are times I would gladly have paid money for one cool bottle of water.
On the farm, in the days before nitrogen fertilizers and herbicides and insecticides, I would get off the tractor and drink straight from the end of the tile line. The water was so cold and so good and so refreshing. It was way better than the water in my thermos jug sitting beside my feet on the tractor.
Living here in Iowa we always have a well of water to draw from. We don’t worry about the wells running dry very often. Our well on the farm never was in danger of running out of water, even on the driest, hottest summer day.
Yet, I’ve read that only 1 in 6 people can count on having water so readily available to them. Over 80 per cent of the people in the world would give anything to have just a little of the water we have available at our fingertips.
One small glass of water seems so insignificant and yet it can mean so much to someone somewhere else in the world.
So, when Jesus says, “…if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward,” you can begin to understand what it means to offer hospitality to these little ones he’s talking about. 
Jesus is saying that, to him and to God, it’s important that we help those who’re without resources, even if it’s just a bottle of water.  But, I think, there’s more to it.
I think he’s telling us how extremely important it is to be hospitable. By helping someone, you and I may very well be welcoming angels into our midst. But we don’t do it just to have angels be our guests, we do it because we care and we can’t bear to see someone die of thirst. It doesn’t seem like much but to the one whose tongue is parched it’s a lifesaver.
So, let’s take this one step further. What do we do for the person who’s thirsting for righteousness? How do we quench that thirst? It’s probably going to take more than a cup of water.
For example, what about the person who’s the next thing to being homeless who’s being taken advantage of because they suffer from some form of mental illness? Think how important one small act of kindness is to them. Maybe 5 minutes of our time to listen to their woes. Maybe just a kind word or a hug or cup of coffee is all they need to lift their spirits. And they may just give you an opportunity to tell them about Jesus and God’s love.
Think about what it does for you when someone pops over with a fresh, homemade strawberry pie with whipped cream on top. You may have been having the worst day but the sight of that person and that pie made you forget about, at least for a while, all that had gone wrong with your day.
What’s it feel like when someone comes over and puts an arm around your shoulder and tells you how much they love you? That’s what a cup of cool water is like for that one who’s dying of thirst. That’s what it feels like to someone whose days hold no joy when someone tells them they love them and couldn’t imagine life without them. That’s what it feels like when they learn that God loves them that much too!
Maybe they’ve never had anyone tell them that, ever! Can you imagine never being told you are worth something? Then to have someone quench your thirst for love with the story of God’s love for the world through Jesus Christ. Imagine what that must be like.
My friends, we’re blessed and our God begs us to share what we have with those who have nothing. As far out as this might seem to you imagine yourself in their spot. Imagine what it would feel like to you to have someone share a little of what they have with you when you have nothing.
It’s kind of like having someone reach out their hand to save you when you’re drowning and you just know there’s no way you can save yourself. Just one act of kindness and hospitality can do that same thing.

Thanks be to God for reaching out to us in Jesus Christ. Amen.

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