To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.– Revelation 21.6I read and ponder: what will be given and exactly who are the thirsty?
What will be given? The gift of water – the gift of the source as well as the sustainer, of life.
On this All Saints’ Day, we can marvel at the great faith of the saints, famous and obscure, who have gone before us . . . we can puzzle over the faith of Abraham, who took Isaac to the mountain of sacrifice . . . we can rejoice in the faith of Mary, who said yes to God’s invitation into the mystery and suffering of motherhood as much as into its joys . . . we can remember the faith of our own fathers and mothers, whether it be shining with hope or dusty from lack of use . . .
Faith is the knowledge, as John Calvin said, that “Already the door of paradise is open to us and [already] we live in God with [God’s] angels.” Faith is “a firm and certain knowledge of God’s good will toward us. . . though we are still sad, we do not cease to taste the goodness of God; when we are terrified, we do not cease to hope in God . . .Faith . . . [raises] us up above all we can conceive . . .”
Dr. Brian Blount’s inauguration sermon at Union Richmond, May 7, 2007, titled Are You Ready? engages the story of Lazarus as a story not of miracle, but of faith, “Jesus knows where we are, knows what we can be, and knows what we can do. That is why, while the bereaved in Bethany are hiding beneath the cover of traditional thinking about life and its limitations, Jesus is doing something dangerous. He is teaching life by letting a man die. Are you ready to come out of hiding and meet this Jesus?”
This Jesus, who teaches life by way of death . . .
This Jesus, whose gospel stinks in the mind of the rational as much as the dead body of Lazarus stank in the nostrils of the living . . .
This Jesus, who demands a faith that is not a Hallmark card, that does not pretend that all is well when it is not.
This Jesus, who is for the weak of will, but not the faint of heart.
This Jesus, who is for the doubter but not the scoffer.
This Jesus, a man very much interested in the faith of the here and the now and not so much the hereafter.
This Jesus, who came for all those who have lived and loved, lost and suffered, feared and trembled, and laughed and celebrated . . .
Are we ready to meet this Jesus?