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Let Everyone Come
June 2, 2019
Rev. Fritz Nelson

Text: Revelation 22:12-17

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
Let everyone who hears say, “Come.”
Let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

The water of life. The stream flowing through the streets of the holy city. The stream with its headwaters under the throne of God and of the lamb. The stream flowing from the city, beyond its walls, turning into a great river, nourishing all the earth.

The stream – the same stream created by God at the beginning to water the Garden of Eden and provide life for all of creation. The same water called forth from the rock by Moses to sustain the Israelites in the desert. The same water released by God to end the great drought caused by Israel’s unfaithfulness. The same water promised by Jesus to the Samaritan woman whom he meets at the well – the life transforming water causing her to leave her jug at the well and announce Jesus’ transformative presence to her entire community.

At last week’s Columbiana Baccalaureate service, Pastor Jan of Columbiana Nazarene challenges the students with an image I’ve been pondering ever since,

God has laid out for us a great feast, Pastor Jan told the students. The table overflows with all of our favorite foods, cooked to perfection. Giant trays of lasagna. Freshly baked bread. Mouth-watering salads with exquisitely crafted dressings. Fried chicken. Savory stews. Fresh, crisp stir fries and noodle bowls. Seafood still tasting of the ocean. Gyros and souvlaki. Deserts – cheese cake from New York City, baklava from Greece, cookies from your grandmother’s house. A feast packed with flavor, perfect in nutrition, enriching for body and soul.

God has set a place for us at this overflowing table. An empty chair awaits. Come, God says. Come. Eat of all I have laid out for you. Come. Be satisfied by my richness. Come. Be filled with my generosity. Come. Experience the wonder of life at my table. Come.

Yet so often, instead of partaking of the feast, instead of taking our chair, sitting at our place, reveling in all God can and will do for us, we crawl on the floor of the banquet hall, picking among the rotten bits, the trod upon food, the old cast away bones. We tell ourselves, “this is it, this is the life we want, or we deserve, or all there is.” We fight among ourselves for the best scraps when the feast of never ending plenty lies literally within reach.

Don’t settle for anything less than the fullness of the feast, Jan challenged the students. Don’t crawl around among the scraps and the filth and the rot under the table when your chair awaits, your place awaits, when the feast awaits and the host, the lamb upon the throne, the Spirit and the bride, says come.

Let everyone who hears say: “Come.”
Let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

I look around at my life, at the lives of my neighbors, at the lives of our leaders and the nations and stand amazed at what I’ve settle for, what lies I’ve bought into, what filth I’ve declared as pure. Its like we’re all in a surreal version of one of those soft drink taste test commercials. One glass contains the pure, holy water of the spring of life. The other glass contains water from a well drilled under a fracking pad, upon which sits a nuclear power plant also containing a battery manufacturing facility and the world’s largest hog farm. As we drink the polluted water the lies slide down our throats, and the lies taste good.

The lie that our worth, our value, depends on how much is in our bank accounts, the car we drive, the house we live in, where we go on vacation, the quantity and quality of our toys.

The lie that we live in a world of scarcity instead of plenty, where we need to protect our power, our wealth, our way of living from those who are less deserving.

The lie that some voices matter more than others, some people matter more than others, some lives matter more than others – and that caring in one direction, loving in one direction, supporting in one direction means not caring, not loving, not supporting in another.

The lie that war is inevitable. Hunger is inevitable. Injustice is inevitable. Hatred is inevitable.

The lie that we can do nothing. That our own lives are stuck in the hells of our own making. That the kingdom of God cannot exist on earth as it is in heaven.

In the face of all the lies, the lamb upon the throne says Come. Drink my water. Partake of my feast. Change can happen. Change is happening. Change can happen within us. The river of life can flow through us. We can be cleansed. We can be healed. We can be renewed. We don’t have to let the lies of the world control us. We can name the hurt, the hatred, the injustice. We can seek lives built upon God’s promise of peace, God’s promise of justice, God’s promise of healing, God’s promise of love, God’s promise of plenty, God’s promise of renewal for all creation. We can join in the great banquet and, in the face of all who profit off the lies, of all who gain by naming the polluted pure, the profane holy, invite others to feast with us.

We can, as the saints have done for generations before us, drink as the woman at the well drank. We can drink deeply of the water of life and then call out to our neighbors: “Come. Come and drink. Come and experience for yourself the one who came and is coming. The one who is making all things new.