You Bring the water: August 30, 2020

Good Morning Church,

Have you ever longed for someone? Maybe it was a friend that you have lost touch with, or a child that lives far away, possibly a parent that has long since deceased. This is the kind of longing that is born out of our deep love and connection to this person. We long to be with them because they have brought us meaning and purpose. We long to be with them because they have loved us and cared for us in our times of need. There is something inherently special about this kind of relationship that is filled with memories and moments shared. This is the kind of longing that our psalmist is inviting us to experience with God today. Maybe you are not sure what or who God is, but you know that there is something missing that no person could fill. It is the God who can fill our hearts with joy and peace that the psalmist is inviting us to join with them in their longing for God, for something greater than the world can give.

It’s like how all of our yards have been longing for that long since elusive and hidden rain. This week, Steph and I welcomed her family for a visit. My in laws stayed with us for a few days and on one afternoon we were walking downtown here to go to the hardware store. While walking to the store we commented on how dry the grass was and how it would crunch under your feet. This dry summer has saddened Steph and myself as we love to see the world in full bloom, but that has often felt like a struggle this summer. The world has been desperate and longing for rain like the psalmist is desperate and longing for God.

This one “thirsts” and “faints” to be with God and equates this feeling to a cry parched land seeking life-giving water. The opening verse reminds us that we are to be an active participant in engaging with the creation and spirit that surrounds us. Our need to be in communion with God is deliberately compared to the need for the earth to have the water it needs to survive. Now I can not tell you what that looks like for you, or you, or you. This connectedness looks different for all of us. For some we may be connected more fully spending time in prayer while others need quiet contemplation in nature. We need to be fed, we need to be nurtured by the spirit, but this looks different for all of us. Your task is finding how you are reenergized and make a point of doing that consistently in your journey.

Verse 2 invites us to remember the faithfulness of God throughout human history. How has God brought about peace and healing in this world through the hands that were available at the time. God has chosen a life of service and salvation in the world. This promise of salvation was met through Jesus, but the promise of service is met through the hands of those who faithfully follow the words of our teacher, Jesus. Whether it be offering bible studies in the community, proving food for the needy, creating shelters for the down trodden, we are called to be those who evoke the Kingdom of God in this world. It’s almost as if it is our job to create the space for ourselves and others to find the grace that will fill our longing for Christ, by being like Jesus in this world.

The prayer continues this theme praising God’s great love or hesed is said to be “better than life.” Hesed is the definition of this decision of God’s to serve and love. All people desire relationship and connection. We all desire to be beloved and cared for. As the hands and feet of Jesus, we are the church today. we create the spaces where others can experience this hesed love.

Here are three things to notice about this type of love in the book of Ruth

*Hesed love is shown through actions—Hesed love is expressed primarily through actions rather than words or emotions. For example, Ruth 1:8 reads,“Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the LORD show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me.’”

*Hesed love expresses genuine concern for others—Hesed love cares about the needs of other people. Interestingly, throughout the book of Ruth no one petitions God to meet his or her own needs. As commentator Daniel Block puts it, “No one in the book demands that God meet their needs or asks for some divine intervention on his/her own behalf. True covenant faith is expressed by concern for the Welfare of others.”

*Hesed love demonstrates strong devotion—Hesed love is demonstrated through devotion that goes above and beyond what is expected. For example, Ruth broke from her family, country, and faith to follow Naomi. She in essence devoted herself to a life of service to her mother-in-law rather than seek a better life for herself through a second marriage.

([1] Adapted from observations by Daniel I. Block in the New American Commentary on Judges/Ruth. [2] Daniel I. Block, New American Commentary on Judges/Ruth.)

The beauty of living the Christian life is that those longings we desire for can be experienced through the communities that we build. This provides the space for all who struggle with hurt and pain to feel God’s continual presence, because God’s people have made the choice to follow Jesus well. When we see people who are lost and alone, Jesus tells us to go be with them. In doing so, we embody the living Christ in our lives and share this grace that we have experienced with a needful world. Never forget what it felt like to have the love of family embrace you and go forth today to be that unconditional love for all of God’s Children. Amen.