Despite the fact that we live in what seems like a desert, water flows all around us. There are drinking fountains in public places and virtually any restaurant will give out water if asked. In our day and time, when have we actually seen someone who was really thirsty? When have we been given the opportunity to give water to someone in need? For myself, I cannot really recall a single instance in which a truly thirsty stranger walked up to me and asked for water. In a way that is a shame because I am sure great blessings come to the giver in that situation.
Below is a meditation written by someone I know, Richelle Thompson. It is from a daily meditation book, Meeting Jesus on the Margins, and is based on the above quoted Scripture from Matthew’s Gospel. She makes me rethink what a truly thirsty person is. Perhaps I have met thirsty people before. And I wonder, did I give them something to drink?
As they settled into the pew, I began the spiel. I introduced myself and welcomed them to the church. I asked whether they had ever attended an Episcopal church before. When they said no, I launched into spiel, part 2. I explained that during Holy Eucharist, all baptized Christians were welcome to receive. I told them the options for intinction or common cup, how the congregation typically files to the altar rail and kneels. And I explained they could receive a blessing if they didn’t want to take communion. Then I asked if they had any questions.
“Um, yes,” the wife murmured. “What’s a eucharist?”
I had skipped right over the heart of the service and into the mechanics. It was like offering high heels to the barefoot. Or seltzer water to the thirsty. If folks don’t’ know about the body and bread of Christ – about this sacred meal that connects us to Christ – then they probably don’t understand instructions about whether to dip or sip.
Most people in my social circle are church-going Christians. And if they don’t attend now, they used to, or are at least familiar with the traditions. But I too often forget that one in five Americans are, as the Pew Research Center states, “religiously unaffiliated.” More and more people are growing up without ever attending church. For them, the parables of Jesus aren’t rich examples of grace and love but social media memes and movie quotes. After all, I wonder how many know that Spiderman’s Uncle Ben was paraphrasing the Gospel of Luke when he cautioned his nephew, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
The spiritual-but-not-religious, the religiously unaffiliated, are searching for meaning in their lives. They are thirsty, and Jesus is asking us to share in the living water.
If you’d like to talk about this, or any other meditation, let’s get together right after church for some coffee and a chat.