Buy Without Money

For the 1st Sunday of Advent

November 26, 2017

Week 12, Day 1

The commercial Christmas Season began this year on October 21st, when Farm and Fleet opened their Toyland. That marked the start of a season filled with high hopes and genuine good will. “Merry Christmas” will be an many lips and the sentiment will most often be sincere.

But most of us also know this as a time when our worries for the Christmas to come and our disappointments from Christmases past will combine and conspire to create days of intense and unwelcome stress.

For this we have Advent.

Advent is a time for quiet waiting, for thinking and hoping and looking forward to the fulfillment of the promise: “Immanuel, God is with us”. Advent, if we let it, removes us for a time from the harried pace of the world around us. It gives us space to breathe and to pray and to rest.

This isn’t to pass any judgment on the festive season. Festiveness is good. The world is much in need of joy and generosity and good will. We do well to offer it and to receive it in abundance. Imagine a world where we set ourselves to giving away twice the joy we receive. How quickly might peace engulf the world.

But the Advent text we have for this first Sunday the season also interjects a note of caution—a suggestion that we take care to take into ourselves and our homes and give to our loved ones and neighbors gifts that are, in fact, gifts. “Come to the waters…” Isaiah calls (Is 55.1).

According to some early rabbis, “water” was often used as a metaphor for the Torah—the word and way of God. Go there, Isaiah counsels, if you are thirsty. Seek out the word and way of God if you are tired and harried, and tired of being harried. Listen to the word and walk in the way of God when the rest of life loses its meaning and you are again overwhelmed by the stuff and busyness of every day existence.

What the world is seeking, and what the stores are selling, may not be what you, and those you love, need right now. Don’t be afraid to question what’s going on all around you. Be careful, Isaiah is saying, not to spend time and energy and money “for that which is not bread…for that which does not satisfy” (v.2).

“Eat what is good,” is God’s invitation. “Delight yourselves in rich food ”. Or in other words—“Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.” (v.2,3)

Prayer: God, we delight in this hopeful, expectant season. Through these days tune our tastes to the good, rich food of your promise we pray. Amen.

Isaiah 55:1-13

1 Ho, everyone who thirsts,

come to the waters;

and you that have no money,

come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

without money and without price.

2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labour for that which does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,

and delight yourselves in rich food.

3 Incline your ear, and come to me;