Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. - Isaiah 55
Most of the blessed souls who receive this weekly invitation/rambling are not regular churchgoers; at least not in Craftsbury. And a good number of these people rarely gather on Sunday mornings in any place of public worship.
Just so we're clear; this is not a problem, for the writer anyway. Every single soul I know well enough to say that I know them wants Creation to be a better thing than it now is. This truth, in my estimation, is all it takes to say that we live in a spirit-world - all of us. We live in a world that yearns to be gentler, kinder, more abundant, and more welcoming. Even if we don't act that way
I read something this week that struck me with force. It was about the Holy Bible. It said, “A book or text in the Bible cannot mean anything for us, unless we first realize it was not written to us.”
This brought me up short. I begin each of these invites with a snippet of text from Scripture. I spend a lot of time thinking about these texts; that's part of my job. And I am sometimes conceited enough to think that, if I drop these quotes here, their meaning will come clear to those who read them, even if they are sometimes not clear to me. My bad.
But... but... there is a reason why these words hold such power. Whether or not we gather in shared worship on Sunday mornings, the Bible plays a vast role in defining the struggle we engage in our shared communal life. Isaiah, quoted above, is one of the richest, most challenging, most inviting texts of all.
He asks a people removed from our time by 2500 years why they spend their treasures on things that do not sustain them. He was talking to people who had an entirely different relationship to food and sustenance than we do - at least most of us. Most of us can fill our bellies without much effort. Yes; some - too many - cannot. And maybe it is those suffering souls to whom Isaiah best speaks across two and a half millennia. We can fill our bellies; can we fill our hearts?
We who live in a world of plenty are asked a different question by Isaiah's words. Are we nourished by the way we live our lives? Is God's glorious promise nurtured by how we spend our treasures? Anyone of us who takes a close, honest, humble look at ourselves in this season of Lent will likely be made uncomfortable by this question. We feast on plenty, even as we live and flounder in a culture that assumes there isn't enough to go all the way around the table
But the paradox is that, as Isaiah tells us, God really wants us to pull up to the table and "delight yourselves in rich food". God wants us to live abundantly - all of us. All. Of. Us. This may mean something different to us today than it meant to the souls to whom he spoke. But it means something powerful to every soul who lives, or has ever lived, in God's broken, gorgeous Creation.
Of course, I want everyone I know and love to gather in worship together every Sunday morning in worship; it's the nature of my work. But even if we don't, might we pray and imagine together? Might we ask what truly sustains us? Might we commit ourselves to "enough-ness"?
Doing so changes everything that is broken into something filled with hope, love, and plenty. The questions we ask ourselves may be different from the questions people asked of themselves 2500 years ago. But the souls of that time yearned for the same thing for which we yearn today; they yearned for life abundant. And that for which they yearned, and for which we yearn, is, as it always has been, within our grasp.
So we worship together, imagining how to make this blessed promise real. We gather at 10 AMon Sundays. You are more welcome than you might imagine. You are part of the answer to the questions God's children have been asking since we first started asking questions.
And of the answers to such questions, as Isaiah says, "Listen, so that you may live."
This is good advice. It was good counsel 2500 years ago, and it still is.
Lenten Sabbath blessings-