category: Musings, Sermon Starter

Everyone Who Thirsts: A Sermon on Inclusion for Lent 3C on Isaiah 55:1-9

By Rachael Keefe

What happened to God so loves the entirety of the cosmos (John 3:16) and all are equal before God (e.g. Genesis 1:27, Galatians 3:28)?

Everyone Who Thirsts: A Sermon on Inclusion for Lent 3C on Isaiah 55:1-9

About 2500 years ago someone we call “Second Isaiah” issued an invitation that is the Gospel of inclusion in the proverbial nutshell. Everyone who thirsts can come to the water even without money. There’s also milk and wine available for all who want it. And stop spending your money of that which does not satisfy. If Isaiah knew this truth so long ago, why do we keep clean water out of reach and still spend our resources on so much that is not satisfying?

Yes, God’s ways are not our ways and God’s thoughts are so much more elevated than ours. However, there is wisdom in making sure that everyone can drink and eat and be satisfied. It’s a simple, logical wisdom that remains beyond our grasp. We have this ridiculous notion that people get what they need based on merit. We think we have to earn God’s love and if you lack access to basic necessities, then somehow you are outside of God’s love and deserve what you get.

What kind of nonsense is this? What happened to God so loves the entirety of the cosmos (John 3:16) and all are equal before God (e.g. Genesis 1:27, Galatians 3:28)? Somehow the notion of earning God’s favor and its opposite of receiving God’s punishment have superseded some basic truths. The false perfectionism of White supremacy has invaded our understanding of what it means to follow God’s holy ways and live in covenant with God, self, neighbor, and Creation.

Human beings are meant to live in community, and these days that means global community. The answer to the old question of “who is my neighbor” is simple: Everyone is our neighbor, particularly the vulnerable among us. Over and over again scripture tells us that we are to care for “the widow, the poor, the orphan, the alien,” the vulnerable among us. If this is what it means to be people of God and live in covenant, then why are there still people who are hungry, thirsty, or without homes all around us?

I blame Constantine for making Christianity subservient to Empire and I blame Calvin for filling our heads with the “Protestant work ethic.” Christianity has been bent and twisted to serve those with power and keep us divided one from another. This is well-served by the idea that we must earn God’s love. If this isn’t enough to indicate where we’ve gone astray, I can add in the foolish emphasis on personal salvation instead of focusing on repairing what generations before us have broken and saving lives.

If we truly follow Christ, then inclusion is our responsibility. It falls to us to ensure that every human being has access to clean water, nutritional food, and safe housing. We can add several more things to this list, of course. These things are just a start. If we think we can’t afford it or we lack the resources, think of how much we spend on things that do not satisfy our thirst or hunger on a literal and figurative level. Can we afford not to repair the breach? Can we afford to allow Christianity to be dominated by archaic theology and White supremacy?

Isaiah would say no. Jesus would say no. I say no. What do you say? Isn’t it time the Bodymind of Christ is focused on saving lives and meeting basic needs? Can you a imagine a church in which all human beings are truly welcome? I think Isaiah could have. And Jesus could have. I want to. Do you?

RCL – Lent 3C – March 20, 2022 – Isaiah 55:1-9  • Psalm 63:1-8  • 1 Corinthians 10:1-13  • Luke 13:1-9

Sermon on Inclusion Isaiah 55 Lent 3C
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About Rachael Keefe

Rachael is an author, a pastor, a teacher, and a poet. Her latest book (The Lifesaving Church - Chalice Press) is on faith and suicide prevention. She is currently the pastor of Living Table UCC in Minneapolis, and has launched a spiritual direction practice.

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