From the moment the people of Israel struck a covenant with God, they began looking elsewhere for their sustenance. The prophet Jeremiah points out this reality and invites God’s people to turn back to God, over and over again. Jeremiah questions the source of Israel’s security and identity, and his inquiry continues to be relevant today: Why do you think power will give you peace and security? Why do you rely on your country’s laws or leaders to tell you how to live or how to relate to others?
Our laws draw lines telling us who is in and who is out, who deserves care and love, who can move freely, who is redeemable, and who is beyond repair. We have lost our way and cling to the faulty map. And yet, the living water can seep from the painful lines: the borders that separate or that we risk death to cross, the wrinkles formed by years of worry or grief, the fences between our yards.
Life hands us endless loss and suffering and so we turn to productivity, screens, and substances to dull the pain. Do we trust that God provides peace and direction? All that we need is within us and between us, and yet we fear the quiet and struggle to listen. And still the water flows.
I suspect I will keep turning to the cracked cisterns, seeking fulfillment and peace in an orderly house and balanced days, in a secure savings account. But the rushing water will find me anyway. And so I keep my eyes open and take note when I’m looking in the wrong place. I take deep breaths. I knock on my neighbor’s door. I bring along my cup, prepared for the cracks, and for the flowing streams.
God, help us gently release our grip on expectations and to-do lists, and open our hearts to your flowing water. Amen.
The admonition in Hebrews 13 “to show hospitality to strangers” is vividly illustrated by Jesus’ advice to guests and hosts in Luke 14. In the topsy-turvy world of divine hospitality, everybody is family. Radical hospitality makes sense only in light of the conviction that God rules the world and therefore adequate repayment for our efforts is simply our relatedness to God and our conformity to what God intends. The texts from Jeremiah and the psalm call the people of God back to commitment to God alone, rather than to the gods of the nations and their values. God is no doubt still lamenting our failure to listen but is also, no doubt, still inviting us to take our humble place at a table that promises exaltation on a scale the world cannot even imagine.
• Read Jeremiah 2:4-13. To whom or where do you go to ll your cup with living water?
• Read Psalm 81:1, 10-16. What shape does God’s bread and honey take in your life? Where are you being invited to open your mouth and to name the gift as sacred?
• Read Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16. How do you offer hospitality to those closest to you?
• Read Luke 14:1, 7-14. When have you been blessed by a party of mis ts? How can you extend the table?
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