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;

listen, so that you may live.

I will make with you an everlasting covenant,

my steadfast, sure love for David.

4 See, I made him a witness to the peoples,

a leader and commander for the peoples.

5 See, you shall call nations that you do not know,

and nations that do not know you shall run to you,

because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,

for he has glorified you.

6 Seek the Lord while he may be found,

call upon him while he is near;

7 let the wicked forsake their way,

and the unrighteous their thoughts;

let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,

and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

and do not return there until they have watered the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,

giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;

it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,

and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12 For you shall go out in joy,

and be led back in peace;

the mountains and the hills before you

shall burst into song,

and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;

instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;

and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,

for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

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