“Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
THE PARABLE OF THE LOST TRAVELER
‘Once there was a traveler who lost himself in a vast, uncharted wilderness. He adapted and lived, just barely, on insects and the drops of dew he could lick off plants in the early mornings. After a long time he settled in to this life. Being parched and always on the edge of hunger became normative for him. Then one day he came upon a pool of water in a dark ravine between towering cliffs. His deep thirst was awakened and drove him into the water where he drank his fill. Only when it was too late, as he lay dying, did he realize that the water was brackish, poisonous. There was no guide, familiar with the wilderness, to warn him away.’
The wilderness is the world in which we find ourselves. An arid world that has abandoned the numinous, the spiritual, for the choking dryness of the material and reasonable. The traveler is anyone who inhabits this wilderness, believing that any diet that feeds the senses is life-giving. The poisonous waters are those false promises offered up to those who are unable to discern the difference between God’s Word of life and the words of evil that promise life but deliver death.
Yes, there are powers in the brackish waters. And they mean us no good. If all the Church can offer up against these powers are the non-redemptive affects of prosperity preaching, consultants on church growth, programs that meet our so-called needs, marketing strategies to increase sales (fill the pews), smug, middle class morality or the call to moral effort, we are done for.
What we need is a Redeemer, a Savior we can trust who discerns our real thirst and can guide us to living water. In baptism, by the water and the Word, we are brought into a such redemptive, life-giving relationship with God in Christ.
Drink from any other source and continuing thirst will be your fate, even unto death. Drink from Christ Jesus, in Word and sacrament, and He will be for You, according to His promise, “a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.“