Come One and All! Come!

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The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

Revelation 22: 17


For many of us, the Book of Revelation is a mixed bag. Among its verses are some of the most beautiful, and the most cringe-worthy, and the most murky (as to their actual meaning) of the whole Bible.

This verse, from today’s lectionary readings, is among the simplest and most beautiful of all. Come, all of you. Come, everyone. Come! Let everyone who wants to, come! And let everyone say, “Come!”

Let everyone who has heard it say it.

Why do we make this so complicated? When God has announced to us, through Jesus, the extravagance of God’s love for us, the lavishness of God’s determination for us to have not just life but life abundant, why do we still clench our fists so tightly and eye one another suspiciously, afraid someone else might get a piece of the salvation pie?

Why do we try to find exceptions to God’s invitation? Why do we need for people to “deserve” God’s abundant gifts (or anyone’s gifts, for that matter)?

Of course, for many of us, this is posturing anyway. Many of us feel, deep down inside, that we are  not worthy ourselves. We imagine that there are conditions – that we have to have “right belief,” that we have to “never sin,” that we have to “always do the right thing” – to qualify for salvation ourselves. And so we size others up because we secretly believe that God is sizing us up and finding us wanting.

But hear the Spirit speak: Come! Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

And when we realize that such a gift is ours, let us share this gift indiscriminately, without toting up some kind of score. Like the wine at Cana and the bread in the wilderness, there is more than enough of God’s abundant love for everyone and it will never run out.  And so it’s our job to share it.

People are so thirsty to hear about forgiveness and acceptance. People are starving for recognition that they are struggling with awful things. People are dying to hear that they are loved and valued for themselves, as they are. Because what they often hear is that they are just not good enough.

Go to a park or the library or some other public place and people watch for a little while today. Imagine saying to each and every person you see, “God loves you and wants you to have abundant life. God does not condemn you and neither do I.” And while you’re at it, look in the mirror and say that to yourself, too.

-Penny Nash
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