March 22, 2010

Lesbian Receives Consents and will be ordained Bishop Suffragan of LA in May

Lambeth Regrets Consents for Canon Glasspool
Posted on: March 18, 2010

A March 18 statement from Lambeth Palace has expressed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s concern about the confirmation of the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool as a bishop suffragan for the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The statement notes that the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion affirmed the call by the Anglican Consultative Council and Archbishop Rowan Williams for continued restraint regarding partnered gay and lesbian bishops; public blessings of same-sex couples; and cross-jurisdiction border crossings.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Ian Douglas, bishop-elect of the Diocese of Connecticut, attended the December meeting of the standing committee, which was formerly known as the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council.

Episcopal News Service quoted portions of the statement, and the Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon posted the full 80-word text on his weblog.

This is the full statement from Lambeth Palace:

It is regrettable that the appeals from Anglican Communion bodies for continuing gracious restraint have not been heeded. Following the Los Angeles election in December the archbishop made clear that the outcome of the consent process would have important implications for the communion. The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion reiterated these concerns in its December resolution which called for the existing moratoria to be upheld. Further consultation will now take place about the implications and consequences of this decision.

Professor at Trinity Seminary Nominated for Bishop of Rio Grand

Trinity Professor Joins Rio Grande Slate
Posted on: March 22, 2010
by The Living Church

The Rev. Dr. Leander Harding of Trinity School for Ministry has joined the slate of nominees to become the ninth bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Harding is Trinity’s dean of church relations and seminary advancement and associate professor of pastoral theology.

The diocese, which encompasses New Mexico and the southwestern corner of Texas, announced Harding’s nomination by petition on March 20. The electing convention will convene April 24.

The diocese has also released question-and-answer essays by all six nominees. The essays reveal how the nominees envision helping the diocese heal after what the diocesan profile [PDF] describes as an extended period of turmoil in leadership.

“The argument could be made that the last ‘normal’ episcopacy in the Diocese of the Rio Grande was that of Bishop [C. James Kinsolving III], which ended in 1972,” the profile said after describing the tenures of Bishops Richard M. Trelease (1972–87), M. Terence Kelshaw (1989–2005) and Jeffrey Steenson (2005–07).

The profile said some in the diocese were wounded by Bishop Kelshaw’s leaving the Episcopal Church, after his retirement, for affiliation with the Anglican Church of Uganda and by Bishop Steenson’s leaving to become a Roman Catholic priest.

Each of the six nominees wrote of the Rio Grande’s need for a renewed sense of its identity.

“The bishop has to help humanize the divisive debates, create an envelope in which people can safely address differences with each other without the risk of winning or losing, and rebuild trust, mutual respect,” wrote the Rev. Ellis Tucker Bowerfind, rector, St. Luke’s, Alexandria, Va.

The bishop also should “offer an exciting opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the diocese, meeting the faithful clergy and people in their congregations, learn about and support their many important local ministries, and restore some creative peace to a diocese that has been troubled by ideological debates,” he wrote.

Harding described a challenge of staying on the side of Jesus rather than the side of battling factions within the diocese.

“It will be a challenge to stay in touch with those who disagree with me without appearing to have joined their side in the dispute and it will be difficult to stay in touch with those who agree with me without appearing to have joined their side,” he wrote. “I call this the challenge of staying on the side of Jesus despite the temptation to enlist in someone else’s cause. The tune will be as important as the words and getting the tune right is very difficult.”

Some nominees addressed the diocese’s future by discussing their past experiences.

The Rev. James R. Harlan, rector, Church of the Ascension, Denver, Colo., described coming to love the three primary forms of piety within Anglicanism.

“From the [Anglo-Catholic] parish of my childhood with its rich worship and reverent mystery to the evangelical/charismatic parishes of my adolescence where the spirit flowed freely and the Bible was taught, to the large, socially active cathedral with its very broad membership, I fell in love with all that the Episcopal Church is,” he wrote. “I came to value different streams of our tradition, not because someone told me to, but because in all those places, God’s love reached out to me and to so many other people.”

The Rev. Jedediah D. Holdorph II, rector, St. Mark’s, Medford, Ore., drew on St. Paul’s image of the Church as the body of Christ.

“I understand that difficult issues remain, but I believe the greatest challenge before us now is to move beyond debating contentious issues and learn to live together in the midst of our different opinions,” he wrote. “If one takes St. Paul’s image of the Church as the Body of Christ seriously — and I do — then we cannot afford to cut anyone off; we know we are more complete when we are together.”

The Rev. John S. Nieman, rector, Holy Trinity, Clemson, S.C., stressed reconciliation.

“Reconciliation as I understand it is not uniformity in all things, but the recognition that we need each other in our differences, and that what binds us together is the one, Triune God and the apostolic mission we have been given,” he wrote. “What excites me most is the opportunity to lead and be a part of the good work God has begun in you. I can envision with great joy looking back with you ten years from now and seeing the road we have walked together through God’s grace toward ‘restoring all people to unity with God and one another in Christ.’ I also see this as an opportunity to incarnate the gift of reconciliation for the larger Church.”

The Rev. Dr. Michael Louis Vono, rector, St. Paul’s Within the Walls, Rome, Italy, discussed one congregation’s disputes on whether it should keep a simple cross above the altar, which a previous rector had used to replace a Celtic cross.

“I proposed placing three different crosses over the Altar; a Christ the King cross, symbolic of an Anglo-Catholic spirituality, the original Celtic cross, symbolic of broad Anglican spirituality, and the simple wooden cross, symbolic of Evangelical spirituality,” Vono wrote. “Each cross spiritually represented a particular understanding of mission as well as ministry. Each remained over the altar two months. Throughout those six months we held evening discussion forums which enabled us to address issues such as the Church’s identity, history in the community, and mission priorities. … Today the Celtic cross is in place as well as an effective broad Anglican mission.”

Douglas LeBlanc

What's Your Story?

The Reverend Scott Homer

In the name of God Almighty, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Have you ever thought of your life like a story? Sometimes we look at our lives as a story. Sometimes somebody will say to us, “So, what’s your story? Or someone will ask, “may I tell you my story?” Sometimes you hear about somebody who lived a fairytale life. Sometimes people live a horror story. So, what is your story?

The Gospels, in fact all of the Scriptures, tell a story. They tell the story of God’s Salvation playing out in the lives of God’s people. Of course, the story of God’s is an immense story that begins with Creation and ends with the world restored and God’s kingdom come. God’s story is so big it looks like a tapestry because within this one overarching story describing God are hundreds, even thousands of micro-stories, and they all fit into the larger tapestry giving it color and variety. The little stories are stories about real people’s lives as they are being lived out within God’s story. Have you ever thought about your life that way? We tend to think that we are living independent and free—that our story is ours and ours alone. We want to believe that it is our choices that determine our destiny. We want to believe that the things we face in our lives today, the successes and failures, are results of our own decisions…but our destiny is not of our own making. Our story is not ours alone. Our destinies belong to God. Our lives are played out within his reality, according to his rules and our past, present and future are all part of God’s larger tapestry. Our salvation belongs to the Lord—it is Jesus’ work , Jesus’ power and Jesus’ compassion. And the essential task of the human life is to acknowledge this fact, not just here between our ears—but most especially to close the 18 inch gap between our heads and our hearts and to love the Lord with all our hearts.

The Gospels are full of micro-stories, stories about real people and what happened to them when they found themselves caught up in God’s story. All these little sub-stories come together to form the rich and ornate tapestry we call Holy Scripture—God’s story. The Scriptures were written for our instruction—in order that we might know God, know our salvation, and know the joy of a life lived in the assurance of God’s grace and mercy. In the Gospel this morning we see no less that four sub-stories. There is Lazarus, Martha, Mary, and Judas Iscariot. Each story is compelling. Each holds important lessons for us but I want to focus on just two of the four. I want to look at Mary, Lazarus’ sister and at Judas Iscariot a disciple of Jesus. Let’s begin with Mary.

Mary is passionately in love with Jesus—and I wish it went without saying that I don’t mean that in a sexual way. Our culture has become all twisted about intimacy. We confuse intimacy with sexuality treating the two as if they are the same thing. So, if we say someone was intimate with someone else we all conclude that they must have slept together. Why can’t we conceive of a friendship that is so close that the people know everything about one another and yet allow that it may be platonic? This confusion has caused and will continue to cause huge problems in our society and in the church. It is why we see so many stories about clergy sexual misconduct. It also explains why the congregations where sexual misconduct has occurred are so reluctant to seek healing. It seems like such dangerous ground. It explains why those same churches are unable and unwilling to develop any real community for years afterwards. After all real community depends upon intimacy and if intimacy and sexuality are the same thing then intimacy means sin and if we want to avoid sin than we must avoid intimacy at all cost. The result is that isolation, and maintaining distance from one another, is the only viable option. Thankfully, intimacy is not the same as sexuality. We can be kind and gentle and genuinely open and passionate in our love for another human being without demanding that sexual contact be a part of it. It is not a hypothetical possibility. It is a genuine reality—and that is the first thing we observe in Mary’s relationship to Jesus. Her love for Jesus demonstrates the sort of love that ought to characterize our relationships--intimate with one another in ways that are God honoring, that respect one another and that bring blessing and health to one another. We need to learn how to have these sorts of relationships even if it is a challenging and risky enterprise. Otherwise how can we claim to love one another as we love ourselves? And so, as I began to say, in our Gospel this morning we see that Mary is passionately in love with Jesus.

Mary’s love for Jesus was passionate. I did a little research on the cost of perfumes nowadays and I found that the most expensive perfume in the world is Perfume No. 1 by Clive Christian. You can purchase it at Neiman Marcus for $2350. We are told that the perfume Mary bought was worth 300 denarii. In today‘s dollars that would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $18,000. And she doesn’t place a drop behind his ear and save the rest. She just slathers it all over Jesus’ feet and uses it all up. You would have to be pretty fond of someone to do that. And Mary slathers that perfume on Jesus feet with her own hair—so close, so intimate and personal, so much passion for her Lord.

Of course Mary has seen Jesus for who he truly is. She has seen the corpse of her dead brother and she has seen her brother resurrected. She watched as Jesus called her brother out of the tomb and she witnessed Jesus’ resurrection power, first hand. She has seen salvation and his name is Jesus of Nazareth. And so, quite naturally, she gives herself totally to honoring him, and perhaps most remarkably of all, she does so openly and in public. She is unashamed. She is unconcerned with what others might think or what others might say. She loves her Lord and her desire is to honor and bless him. Mary devotes herself whole-heartedly—body, mind, and spirit—to worshipping Jesus.

Mary is a challenge to us. She causes us to wonder about ourselves and the ways we pull back from giving ourselves completely to the Lord. What would it look like for us to give ourselves wholeheartedly, unashamedly to Jesus? How much money would we be willing to spend in order to bring honor and glory to him? Are we prepared to be embarrassed for Jesus? Would you risk other people thinking less of you in order to please the Lord? And how about the church? What would our corporate worship look like if we worshipped like Mary worships? What would the world around us think if we behaved like Mary? I don’t mean for us to just look at this negatively. I believe that we are called to worship like Mary and I believe that the world would be impressed. People might even be inspired to come and see what all the fuss is about.

Now the real conflict in our story this morning comes when Judas responds to what he sees Mary doing. Judas is not impressed. In fact, he is rather unhappy about this display of love for Jesus. Judas Iscariot also has something extraordinarily important to teach us. Judas, we are told, had already determined to betray Jesus but he couches his complaint in practical terms. He is shocked by the squandering of a large sum of money. Surely that money could have been put to better use.
It is essential that we recognize the role that money played in Judas’ betrayal of Jesus because in some really frightening ways our view of money mirrors his. Judas seems to think that his welfare, and the welfare of those around him, depends upon the amount of money in his purse. He claims to seek wealth in order to care for the needs of the less fortunate but he actually want the wealth to serve himself. Plainly put, in Judas’ mind, salvation has little or nothing to do with Jesus. Salvation is having enough money in the bank to handle life’s adversities. That makes Judas the most American of all the disciples. After all, don’t we believe the same thing?

Bad health? Your healing depends upon owning health insurance, disability insurance, and having sufficient money in the bank. Old age? Your salvation depends upon having adequate retirement planning. Premature death? Your salvation depends upon having sufficient life insurance in place to sustain your family. I am not condemning any of that. I’m just pointing out that it is contrary to what God’s story tells us.

This is not the only instance where we see Judas’ greed. Later, when Judas betrays Jesus to the Sanhedrin he does so by selling Jesus to them for thirty pieces of silver. Our Lord was betrayed by a man who trusted in money rather than the Lord. Jesus might have been betrayed for any number of other reasons liked religious zeal, or political persecution but the Scriptures are very specific on this point. The Lord wants us to know that thing that caused the Son of Glory to be killed was love of money over the love of the Lord. As we talk about stewardship issues over the course of the year I pray that we will all heed Scripture’s warning and recognize our own vulnerability to the seduction of money in our lives. Money can not save us. Only Jesus can save us.

Let me try and tie this all together. We began by talking about the overarching story of God. It this story, the story we call Scripture are lots of sub-stories, like those of Mary and Judas. These sub-stories do not have a life of their own. They only exist as a small part of that larger story. Mary understood that her story was completely and utterly dependant on the larger story. Judas did not—at least not until it was too late. Mary understood that her brother was alive not because he was wealthy, not because he could afford the best doctors, not because they had made the right decisions and the right choices over the years. Mary knew that Lazarus was alive because Jesus said so. And although Judas must have witnessed Lazarus rising from the dead, somehow or another it didn’t touch him. The reality of what had happened didn’t make any sense to him. He still thought that somehow or another his life was independent of God. He still thought his salvation depended upon his own ability to make the right moves and access the right tools, and to have enough money in the purse. For Judas, in spite of all the miracles he had witnessed, Jesus was still just the son of a Jewish carpenter. Judas took offense at Jesus and at all the attention that he was receiving, and he chose to betray the Son of God and his only hope for salvation.

We have been trained since we were babies to believe that we create our own story through the decisions that we ourselves make. If we are wealthy it is because we made wise choices. If we are poor it is because we made poor choices. We act as though we are the masters of our own destinies but we are not. Lazarus did not die by choice. He was not resurrected by any choice of his own either. We don’t either. St Paul tells us in chapter 14 of Romans, “7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.”

Each of us is a sub-story of the one great story. Our lives are small but important parts of this great tapestry that we know as God. God has caused the Light of Christ to shine in your life. He has blessed you by allowing you to read the story and to determine your part in it. Abandon yourself to God. Devote the rest of your life to him. Rejoice in worship. Celebrate in prayer because in Jesus your story has the most blessed and joyful ending. In fact, in Jesus the story never ends because in Jesus love triumphs and joy is eternal. What’s your story? Amen.

The Parable of the Three Sons

the Reverend Scott Homer
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit—Amen

The Middle East has an arid climate. There is little rainfall. The land is dry and rocky. Only the most drought resistant plants survive. Attempts to cultivate the land and grow crops require great effort and substantial good fortune. If the rains do not come, there will be no crop. If there is no crop there is no food. And if there is no food there is no life. So it should come as no surprise that in the scriptures “water” is a common metaphor for life—no water, no life—abundant water, abundant life. Water is even used to describe eternal life.

In Zechariah 14.5—8, the prophet speaks of the time when messiah will come. He declares, “Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter.”

The prophet foretells the day when life will no longer ebb away from us little by little, but a new day, a day of everlasting light and eternal life will flow, like a river of “living water.” It will flow out from Jerusalem in both directions. It will flow in season and out of season.

In the gospel of John chapter 7, verse 38, Jesus declares, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."
Jesus claims the prophecy for himself. He claims that, the “Lord your God has come,” just as Zechariah had promised. Jesus says, “I am he. And those of you who believe in me will know eternal life flowing through you.”

Do you know how good water can taste? I don’t mean Perrier or Pellegrino with their happy, teasing bubbles. And I don’t mean Aquafina, Dasani or Evian with their attractive packaging. What I am asking is have you ever realized that plain ordinary H2O is the greatest taste in the world? If you have never been thirsty, you have no idea what I’m talking about. If you have grown up in the city, in a house with three to ten water faucets, with bottled water at every corner store, and water fountains at work and school, then you may have never experienced true thirst. And if you have never experienced true thirst you may be of the opinion that water is just plain and bland. You may wonder, what’s to like? And, given an option, you probably choose to drink coca-cola or ice tea or maybe even a glass of wine over plain old water.

But if you know what it means to be truly thirsty you know that it is not a happy experience. Maybe you have walked down a long hot trail, or gone for a very long run; or maybe you’ve gone to a remote beach somewhere and forgotten to take anything to drink along with you. If you have experienced true thirst you know what it feels like when your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth, and your mouth feels like cotton, and you can’t sweat because there’s no moisture left in you, so you start to run a fever, and your lips are all chapped and splitting—and yet there is still no water in sight—and you realize you could die of thirst. If you’ve ever been truly thirsty then you know how good water tastes! When you are truly thirsty you don’t drink daintily from a glass. You get grabby. You don’t sip. You guzzle. You act like a drunk under a bridge getting his first drink of the day. You relish the cool slippery liquid sliding down your throat. You lick you cracked lips and rejoice at the refreshment it brings. A glass of wine won’t do it. You might put up with a soda or an iced tea but when you are bone dry thirsty—cool, pure water is the only thing that truly satisfies!

And that drink of water doesn’t just quench your thirst; it allows you to live on. It doesn’t just wet your whistle. It saves your life.

On Ash Wednesday as we placed ashes on your forehead we said, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” and, in fact, the deciding difference between flesh and blood and dust and ashes is water. When you are dried up, when you are truly thirsty, nothing in all the world can substitute for water. But plain old water is not enough. In physical terms, even if we can escape disease and injury, even if we manage to stay healthy late into life, even if we enjoy all the necessities of life our days will eventually come to an end. So, if we are going to survive for the long run, that is beyond our appointed years here on earth, there is going to have to be some other source of life, something even more essential than water. What we need to obtain eternal life is what Zechariah called, “living water.” We need a spring of living water welling up within us and flowing through us. If we hope to last we need eternal life…and for eternal life we need Jesus Christ because he is the sole source of that living water.

Now let’s turn to our gospel reading for today. In Luke chapter 15, verse 32, at the very end of our reading, the Father confirms to his elder son that the important thing is fellowship with the Father. He says, “We had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” The prodigal son was faced with death but that did not occur when he realized he was starving. It happened long before then. The Prodigal son began to die when he broke fellowship with the Father. After that his life was a downward spiral. And he was not revived when the Father fed him. He was revived when the Father embraced him. Reunion with the Father restored his life.

This is the lesson we learn from the younger son. We will not discover living water—we will not find fulfillment apart from the Father. We think we will. We think that as we venture out on our own journey we will stumble upon something life-giving, but nothing we discover will quench our thirst. We can take the gifts that God has given us—our inheritance—and we can squander all those gifts on a million pleasures, countless things of beauty, sensual gratification galore and we will find ourselves emptier than when we began. “Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink” Ask any addict. They will tell you that the more they used the less satisfying it became. More and more meant less and less. We can insist on denying that our Father is wiser than us. We can ignore the necessity of living in relationship with God but without him we will always fail.

We can continue running from God as long as we like. All it will ever accomplish is to lead us to the point of death and despair. It always does. The drunk living under the bridge is no worse off than the obsessive compulsive business executive with his two martini lunches. The anxiety driven mom who is ready to lose it at any moment is only one step away from the woman inmate who stepped over the line in a fit of anger. Whether you are ignoring God’s plain call for you to do ministry or whether you are grudgingly serving on ten committees at church, it is no different. Pursuing our own path, demanding life on our terms always leads us into the desert of despair. We always discover we are eating and drinking out of a pig trough. There’s no water there and unless we are able to find enough humility to turn around and return to the Lord we will surely die there. That’s what happened to the likes of Anna Nicole Smith, Howard Hughes, Keith Ledger, and Kurt Cobain. In a shockingly literal way, it was what happened to Bp. James Pike who abandoned the traditional teachings of the church. He was the darling of the liberal church. He enjoyed an international reputation. There was water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. In the end he died of thirst—literally, lost in the Judean desert, not very far from the place where Jesus—the Lord he so openly and unashamedly denied—was crucified. He was so close to his Salvation and yet he was light years away because he was not willing to humble himself. (that remains the great danger facing our churches today)

And this is the lesson of the older son. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” All over the world today there are Christians living miserable, unhappy, legalistic lives. We work too hard. We are constantly striving to “do God’s will” but we try too hard—our obsession with being good Christians betrays a real lack of trust. While we claim to surrender to God’s plan we insist on God being intolerant, bossy, and condemning. Emotionally, many of us have decided to cover up our depression or our anger, or any other negative thoughts or feelings, because we fear that no true Christian is permitted to feel that way. We know all the right things to say and do. We look so good on Sunday morning. We drive ourselves daily, trying to prove our love for Jesus. But we can’t find any joy. There is no peace. We don’t seem able to grasp the fact that God loves us without condition. We desperately need to accept the fact that God wants to set us free. God does not seek to punish us. He has, in fact, wiped the slate clean. The sins of our past are forgiven and forgotten. Our future is debt free. We don’t seem able to conceive of a God who could simply take delight in forgiveness. There always has to be a “yea but”—some catch—something else we must do to qualify. And many of us are deeply offended—never publicly of course—but deeply offended when God’s grace and freedom shines in the life of some wretched sinner. We will not—will not—celebrate in God’s forgiveness. We refuse to join in God’s celebration. We have never come to understand that true freedom is the goal of “salvation” and “forgiveness.” It is the joyous work of God—it is the only reason for the party…and so we trudge along wondering when the drudgery will end—questioning whether in the end our merits will outweigh their demerits. We spend our whole lives thirsty while a vast ocean of pure living water runs right through the middle of their lives. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make us drink.

Now I don’t usually title my sermons—the Presbyterians always wanted to know the title of my next sermon but Episcopalians just don’t even ask. But if a Presbyterian were to ask me for the title of today’s sermon it would be, “The Parable of the Three Sons,” because there is a third Son in our story this morning. The third son is the only begotten Son, the Son telling the story. Jesus paints a picture of a loving, forgiving Father and his two wayward sons for a reason. He is answering a complaint. Jesus had been accused of acting contrary to God’s will. At the beginning of chapter 15 St. Luke tells us that “…the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear [Jesus]. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." We are told that “they muttered”—and muttering is not good. Muttering destroys lives and ruins ministries. They were muttering that if Jesus was God’s anointed one, as he claimed to be, then he should be hanging around with the righteous people and insisting that the sinful be punished. And since Jesus was doing the opposite Jesus must be opposed to God’s purposes.

Jesus’ answer is that this third Son, this Son that is telling the tale, is different than the rest. This third Son is not running from the Father’s will like the prodigal did and like sinners always do. Neither was He leaving brother sinners in despair nor self-righteously insisting that they be forever punished. No, this Son who is telling the story is different. He desires what his Father desires. He rejoices in bringing the dead to life—he delights in finding the lost—he loves to set sinners free—just like the Father. And neither he nor his Father waits for sinners to clean up their act and show proper penance. Instead, as soon as they see the sinners coming, while they are still a long way off, the Father and the true Son run out to meet them. This third Son is just like the Father. In fact, when you look at the Son you see the Father. And this Son does not act on his own authority. Rather He does the will of the one who sent him. It is the Father’s will that sinners be saved. It is Jesus’ will too. The Father is devoted to compassion and forgiveness. The Son is too. In fact, Jesus has come for the very purpose of opening the door for compassion and forgiveness. He came to save sinners, people who look and act just like us, people who have spent their whole lives fighting to get away from God and people who have been refusing God’s gracious gift and insisting upon justice; all the younger sons and the older sons who ever lived, Jesus has come to save.

That is the sole reason the Son came down from heaven. It was the Father’s desire that springs of living water would flow out from Jerusalem, to the east and to the west, for all time. Generation after generation thirsty, lost sinners, have quenched their spiritual thirst from the spring of living water that flows from Jesus’ self-sacrificing wounds. We have been refreshed and we have been restored through faith in Jesus Christ.

Every time someone drinks from that stream there is rejoicing in heaven—and so God’s banquet, his party for saved sinners continues uninterrupted to this day.
Some of you have been wasting your time searching for refreshment everywhere but in Jesus. You can’t understand why you keep getting beat up by life—when will you return to the Lord? Others of you have been hard-hearted Christians for years. You mean well, you try harder than the rest, but you are desperate for refreshment.—when will you let go and let God?

Before his son ever got to the father, the father jumped up and ran to them. It is as if he was watching and waiting for a glimpse of them. He is watching and waiting for a glimpse of you too. He has been watching and waiting for a long time, longing to see you, longing for you to come into the banquet. He longs to embrace you and to set you free. He longs to give you a drink from the stream of living water—a drink so refreshing that everything else pales into insignificance. Have you ever been really thirsty? If you have you know how good the living water tastes. Amen.