Jeremiah 31: 31-35
JOHN 7: 37-38

October 16, 2022

<<Silently walk to the back of the church>> Church are you thirsty? Church are you wanting that special peace the goes beyond human understanding? Do you want joy? Do you want an eternity with God in heaven? Are you one of the few … are you one of the few who has found the living water taken in the Salvation of Jesus Christ and this morning, what are you doing about it?

<<Opens the outside door>>. Hey! All of you out here … are you ready to discover Jesus? God’s Son … and be rescued from the world?

<<Return to the front of the church singing … down to the river to pray>> As I went down to the river to pray studying about the good old way and who shall wear the robe and crown … GOOD LORD show me the way! O Children let’s go down …

Last night church, I saw a challenging play. I so love the theater because theater in its best work challenges audiences. Theater has been with humanity since the very beginning of time and it was around campfires that the stories of faith were told to the people of Israel and Judah, the members of the 12 tribes … theater … long before Guttenberg’s printing presses made access to the Bible so easy for every day folk to read and even longer before every single human being with a cell phone could have a free Bible with them all the time …. Young and old … parents, grandparents, and kids … its even better than the old Gideon Motel Drawer Bibles … we can have God’s Word with us all the time; we can share God’s Word wherever we are and we can ensure that the next generation is aware of that extra special APP on their phones … can even get them a daily e-mail devotion featuring God’s Word if we want to share some faith.

By the way, if you have children or grandchildren; nephews or nieces with smart phones … have you showed them God’s Word on their phones? Helped them with the Bible APP or … or would that be interfering with their lives here on earth?

And, in that play last night there was a story within the play’s main message related to a young teenager who had found Jesus. Her parents absolutely did not want to hear any of that Jesus talk much less wanting their daughter to take in the Living Water referenced in today’s Gospel reading … they absolutely did not want their daughter to be different than they were … living their lives as worldly activists. They proceeded to do all in their power to dissuade her from Jesus … no church, no Bible, no prayer, no songs of praise and outright ongoing condemnation of her “Jesus talk.” They did all they could to force her to join their world and reject God.

Friends … do you wonder in these days how many people either directly or indirectly are telling their children and their grandchildren that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not matter … that Jesus should not be in their lives … that there are human figures more worthy of their allegiance and praise? That God Time is not worth their time? Parents life-long messages of dismissing faith, God and Jesus Christ through their emphasis on self-gain or self promotion or comfort amongst those who set up human parameters of division … they are out there … some may have walked through those doors once upon a time.

Are you aware that some of your friends … some of your neighbors … and perhaps even some of your family members are activists in the rejection of the Gospel teachings of Jesus? That some find pleasure in denial of God and others just act like humanity has all the answers. Their songs of praise are lifted for personal gain, political division, and the dismissal of the poor and the outcast and the absolute rejection of strangers. Are you hearing it?

I am not sure if any of you have the kind of deep internal conversations I have with myself. Yes, here in church, I admit I talk to myself but one of the conversations that constantly challenges me and frankly has challenged me since my teenage years has to do with God’s partner in the last covenant God, the partner is called humanity. Yes, I get frustrated and confused by humanity’s neglect and rejection of God’s simple message to love God and love all of our neighbors while doing justice.

As good people of faith … people who throughout your lives have studied and continue to study God’s Word as part of your daily rituals and habits, I am sure you are aware of the various COVENANTS that God has attempted to implement in partnership with people of faith. Actually, it is clear that God had hoped that all members of humanity would accept the covenants but especially those who were brought up in religious households. If COVENANT is too much of a Bible word you should know it basically means treaty or the guidelines for strengthening a relationship.

The first COVENANT in the Bible, as you all know, is the one God established with the survivors of the great flood … Noah and his family. It reaffirmed who God is and promised to preserve humanity even in the face of human evil and violence.

The second COVENANT is the one which God established with Abraham in Genesis. It was followed by the COVENANT with Moses when God supplied the basis for the laws that would govern humanity through God in those early years before Jesus. It was meant to provide sane governance and also shape God’s people to become faithful providing both blessings and punishment in case of disobedience.

God established a COVENANT with DAVID that was also the first promise of the Messiah whom we know was Jesus.

The fifth COVENANT you heard this morning. God’s declaration that God would rescue and renew God’s people. This COVENANT provides a pathway for humans to be forgiven of our sin … offers a renewal of humanity’s heart and provides new insight into God.

DID YOU HEAR IT …. Are you living as if you are hearing it each day? God’s plan … God’s treaty … God’s agreement with you and me and all of humanity but it’s not a one way plan where one side gives everything meaning God and the other side gets all the benefits; that’s humanity in many people’s opinions. There are obligations for all who care to be involved. And, those rejecting involvement with God … well they just get to lose out.

The time is coming declares the Lord when I will make a new covenant with my people. In the past their ancestors broke the covenants. This time says the Lord, I will put my instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. They will know me from the least of them to the greatest for I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins.”

After taking the bread and giving thanks, Jesus broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup after the meal and said, “This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sin.”

And, one evening a Pharisee named Nicodemus came to see Jesus. And, he asked Jesus about faith and God’s relationship with humanity. Jesus told him, “I assure you, unless someone is born again, it is not possible to see God’s kingdom. God so loved the world that God gave God’s only Son so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.”

A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?” He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will have eternal live.”” Jesus then used the example of the Good Samaritan beaten along the Jericho Road and ignored by the religious leader and also by the Levite clearly indicating that those who ignore the hurting do not love their neighbors as God requires … but the Samaritan did stop and Jesus told the legal expert who had challenged him and asked about eternal life to “Go and do likewise.”

So, church … are you hearing it? Do you understand your role … my role …our roles in the covenant God has established with humanity? There is more to this treaty that God has established with humanity than merely saying ‘I am a Christian’ because words are only words until they become descriptive and reflective of actions. The religious leader walking past the beaten man on Jericho’s Road surely thought he was right with God because after all he had the robes and splendor of being a priest. And, the Levite was clearly full of himself … probably damned those he didn’t agree with for their opinions but he wasn’t going to stop to help a beaten man by caring …. much less showing love for a beaten man … and Jesus declares they don’t meet the criteria to gain eternal life with God because they only looked the part of the faithful … they only declared that they were faithful but there is more so much more.

Nicole Nordeman in her song, ‘What If,’ asks the question to a non-believing friend who said Jesus was just a nice guy … what if Scriptures are true; that God’s Son is the Savior; that to gain eternal life you must change and love God and love all of your neighbors but you still reject God and Christ. Friends, are you amongst those who have God’s instructions on your heart? Is God your God and are you one of God’s people?

At ShopRite this week I very briefly saw someone who used to be in church … their children used to be in church … she blushed and hurried away. Are you hearing God’s call to go to the Rivers of living water. JESUS SHOUTED … ALL WHO ARE THIRSTY SHOULD COME TO ME … Friends I hope you join with me daily … “Sinners come down to the river and pray studying about the good old way and who should wear the robe and crown, GOOD LORD show me the way” … And, then “think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand … put a little love in your heart” letting kindness and faith be your guide. AMEN

© 2017- St. Paul's United Methodist Church, West Deptford, NJ