Thank you to all who cooked and baked and came to vote for our fabulous Chili and Dessert Cook Off! Congratulations to Annie Casturo, our youngest chili winner ever! And Janet Woessner, wow, I agree, your pie was incredible! And more congratulations to the runners up, Tracy Saber for her chili and the Hrivnak family for their pumpkin cookies.
This Sunday, as we continue our Lion and Lamb series, we are looking at the Word. What does it mean that Jesus is the Word of God, the Word made flesh? One of the Old Testament passages we will study on Sunday is from Isaiah 55:10-11:
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me void, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
This passage always reminds me of my first job after seminary, with Outer Banks Presbyterian Church - yes, that Outer Banks. The pastor told me my job would be working with their children's ministry, but when I arrived, I discovered that they also needed me to work with youth. At that point in my life, I knew how to talk to little kids but had no idea how to talk to teenagers. I had never been the cool kid in high school, and here I was thrown in with a bunch of beach kids who loved to surf. We could not have been more different. My prayer for most of the year was, "O Lord, help!"
As I looked out at these students I didn't know how to relate to, I clung to the hope of Isaiah 55. If I taught them the Word, God promised it would not return void. It would water the earth of their lives, and it would help them bud and flourish. As I shared the Word with them, I prayed they would meet Jesus in scripture. I trusted the Holy Spirit to move past my feeble attempts to be cool enough for teenagers and reach their hearts.
Sure enough, God fulfilled his promises, and I saw the students grow and come to love the Lord in powerful ways. I'll never forget when, my last summer there, I asked what time they would like to get together for Bible study. Teenagers plus summer usually means sleeping in. But no, this bunch wanted to meet me on the beach at 7am every Wednesday all summer long to study the gospel of Mark. That was the best time, before the surf was up! I will always be grateful for them - as I taught them, they taught me how to be a pastor and especially how to love teenagers.
In Old Testament times, the people of Israel had the word of God, spoken by the voices of the prophets. Now, we have the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. All of the words of scripture are now alive in one person. Like the rain and snow, wherever Jesus is poured out, His grace waters the earth. His power will not return void. He will accomplish what He desires. And His greatest desire is to draw all people unto Himself.
May God rain down (and occasionally snow) on us this Christmas season, that we may flourish in the living water of Jesus Christ forever.