Sermon March 20, 2022: God's Forgiveness is Always Free
Preaching on Isaiah
How thirsty are you? Isaiah invites us to come and drink of the waters. Come and drink of the milk and the wine and do not pay for it! Come into loving covenant with God. Come and accept the gifts!
Come and drink of all that is good.
Isaiah’s words are not a command - they are an invitation. An invitation to repent, to return to God and to all that give you life.
There are times when we are very aware of what we need or desire including the things we thirst for. But there are other times when we do not feel the need or desire for anything in particular.
But that's okay - there will always be someone trying to convince you that you do need or desire things. MANY THINGS. We live in a determined consumer society. We are constantly bombarded with images and messages of more and more and more. When do we stop and ask what’s enough?
Have you taken the time this Lent to say no to more things. Have you taken a fast from consumerism this Lent?
Even if we do not really need anything its easy to be convinced that there is something lacking, that we do need more. But these offers are fake and false. Any way of life that leads away from God is an empty life. We are worshiping things. We are focusing on the toys and not the creator.
Isaiah reminds us that a relationship with God, based on love, is our greatest need. Isaiah is telling us something about ourselves at every moment of our lives.
We need what God has to give.
God’s wisdom is not found in materialism or consumerism. God’s ways are not our ways and the Holy Spirit’s thoughts are not our thoughts.
Sometimes in our lives we do not feel God’s presence. We do not feel close to God. This can be very painful. Some people refer to it as a drought. Prayer does not seem to help, nothing seems to help us feel close to God. This is something I hear often. And it is hard to give encouragement when we feel like this. We might feel that “if only I …..prayed harder, studied the word more..etc etc.” This puts tremendous pressure on us and probably drives us further away from God as we try and try and try.
And sometimes we forget that God’s gifts are free. Maybe we forget what Martin Luther taught us - God’s grace is a gift freely given. Forgiveness is free. It does not matter what we have done, we are forgiven - ALWAYS. God loves each and every one of us. Even when we do not love ourselves or cannot forgive ourselves.
God’s sustenance and blessing are freely given. We are people of God and our mission is joy. We are to be witnesses to God’s hurting world.
But we do not always behave like we believe this. We live in the world. We have to live in the world and we have to work and we have to pay taxes. But sometimes we strive for more and more. We answer the siren call of the advertisers. Perhaps every so often we might have a suspicion that “things” will bring us joy - will make our lives better. That the shiny new toys will bring fulfillment.
Isaiah says no. Our constant striving to satisfy ourselves is doomed to failure. Isaiah calls us to abandon this and trust in God. Isaiah calls us to a lavish feast where we will be filled.
In the book of Isaiah we are constantly being called to come back to God. No matter what we have done we can and will be forgiven.
Isaiah shows us the divine paradox. Although our thoughts are not God’s thoughts and our ways are not God’s ways, God is still near. God still wants that relationship with us. God wants us to be in fellowship and covenant. To know we are loved.
Isaiah can be very freeing. Isaiah encourages us to be free of the burden to look good when we are struggling. Where are we spending time and money that does not bring joy or peace? Where or how are we working and not producing hope or security? Who is telling us we must continue to do things that do not build us or others up?
Isaiah tells us there is another way. Accept the invitation from God. Turn to God and fill your hunger and slake your thirst. The gifts of God are for now. For the everyday.