Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My first sermon

Ok, here's my very first sermon. It's just a short homily - about 8 min. in length. Tomorrow at 12:15 I'll be leading the 5th Lenten worship Service. These 6 Wednesdays throughout Lent and Good Friday are all on the theme of the 7 Last Words of Christ. "Hope in Troubled Times: Contemporary Reflection on the Last Words of Christ." My title is: "I Thirst: Hope for Social Justice in the Face of Human Privation"

More than half of her body is made of it, approximately 55%. She needs about a gallon of it a day. If she were to go more than 5 days without it, she would die. Her name is Kelemwa. She’s a mother of 4 children, and lives in rural Ethiopia. She and her children walk over an hour a day to carry this precious cargo - water. You need just as much water as she, but there’s a big difference in her life. Her water comes from a river, the closest water source to her home. The river is also used by cattle and wild animals that contaminate the river. During the dry season, the river dries up to barely a trickle, or completely disappears. Her family often becomes sick with diarrhea from the dirty water and there is never enough water to use for sanitation and personal hygiene.

There are a billion other stories like hers. That is not an exaggeration. One in six people in the world do not have access to an adequate water supply.

Water – it surrounds us, it is a building block of life. Without it, we die. Human suffering around the world is profoundly connected to a lack of good, clean and sufficient amounts of water. Clearly, you need it, I need it, Kelemwa needs it, Jesus needed it.

In the last moments of his life here on earth, Jesus thirsted. He cried out for a drink. Why did he cry out for thirst? This was God! God, who makes the rain to fall on the earth, who created the great and small rivers of the world, who covered this planet with life giving water. God, who formed the earth with his hands from the deep, from the waters. God was thirsty! If Jesus had asked for it, the angels would have supplied him with the most satisfying cup of cold water.

But, this was also Man. Jesus was fully God and perhaps most at this moment in time, most fully Man. And he knew it. He knew that for the scriptures to be fulfilled, he must suffer this life ending thirst. Jesus experienced to the depth what it is to be human. He knew what it was like to be homeless, to be a refugee, to be hungry and tired, to be rejected, to be whipped and scorned, to be misunderstood, to be overcome with grief, to be thirsty.

Do we, in our comfortable, North American lives know what it’s like to be thirsty? Perhaps we need to learn what it is to be thirsty, the way Jesus was thirsty, the way more than 1 billion people – men, women and children, are thirsty. Jesus walks along side these people. Are we walking along with them?

Jesus was thirsty, parched and dry in his mouth. He was also thirsty, parched and dry in his soul, for Jesus was separated from God. Jesus descended into hell – what is hell but total separation from God. Jesus was thirsty for the very living water that he offered one day to a woman at a well in Samaria. Not only did Jesus experience the deepest physical thirst that a human can experience, Jesus gave himself up in death, and became separated from God for us.

We are not truly separated from God, the way that Jesus was at that moment. Because of what Jesus suffered on our behalf that day, we have been ushered into the very presence of God, through Jesus Christ. Certainly, each of us has longed for and thirsted for the presence of the Lord. But if we’re truly honest with ourselves, we’ll recognize that when we feel far from God, it is because we have turned away from God.

Jesus’ life was about social justice, about healing, feeding, teaching and loving the rejected and discarded. Jesus also felt first hand the reality of poverty and lack of water to drink. Jesus felt first hand on the cross what it is like to be separated from God. That last drink he took was vinegar. He knew it was vinegar – he drank it anyway, to be obedient to death, even death on the cross. He drank it for us. So that we could drink from the fountain that doesn’t ever run dry. So that our lives are overflowing with the love of Jesus Christ. When we drink from that fountain, our hearts overflow with living water that directs our lives and actions. We cannot but help to share living water, drinking water, food, clothing, shelter with those around us and those far away from us.

Jesus calls us to social justice – not out of obligation, not out of a sense of doing good, or to get some warm and fuzzy feeling in return. No, Jesus fills us to overflowing so that we joyfully and hope-fully share with the least of these. When our joy fills up our cup to overflowing, when our lips can speak no words other than true, when we know that love for simple things is better, then we know that God still goes that road with us, then we know that God still goes that road with us.

Let us pray,
Heavenly Father, giver of life who fills our cups to overflowing, reveal yourself to us as you walk down the road with us. Show us how when we offer a drink of cool refreshing water to one of the least of these, we offer cool refreshing water to thee, Lord God. And just as we offer bitter vinegar to drink to the least of these, we stand with the men at the cross and offer our Lord a sponge soaked with vinegar. Fill our cups to overflowing Lord so that out of our abundance we may share your love, your light, your water with the world, for your glory. In Jesus name, Amen.


Blogger Sally said...

Just dropped by to say hi, I love this sermon, and pray it preached well.
Such a good mix of social justice and inspiration!
Hope all is well

6:20 AM  

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