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We live in thirsty days

Sam Askew

“How is your health today?” This was the question directed at me by an acquaintance of mine. He was from India and a disciple of the Sikh faith, which is a monotheistic faith that originated in the fifth century. His inquiry opened the way to our weekly conversation concerning life and our common faith in the one God of creation. The greeting was not an inquiry into one’s aches and pains of the body. In the tradition of his faith, the inquiry concerned my relationship with God on that particular day.

The ancient Christian greeting that we use singularly on Resurrection (Easter) Sunday is a similar inquiry yet is not in question form. The greeting, “Christ is risen!” is responded with, “Christ is risen indeed!” It is a greeting of what is nourishing for our spiritual health. The words remind us that Christ’s suffering and death, his thirsting, provided the quenching of our souls. “Christ is risen indeed!” is an exclamation of his victory over Satan, death and hell. It is a worthy check upon our spiritual health.

The hymnist Fanny Crosby penned these words as the refrain to the hymn “He Hideth My Soul:”

“He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock that shadows a dry thirsty land; He hideth my life in the depths of his love and covers me there with his hand.”

The phrase of a dry thirsty land resonates with me when I reflect upon the challenges people face each day. The Church proclaims the good news, but, it is too often pushed away into the shadows of a closet to be brought out on holidays and as a needed last resort. We live in thirsty days.

I remember a scene from the movie, “The American President” that came out in 1995. The president, played by Michael Douglas, was ignoring the barbs of his political challenger who suggested there was a lack of moral leadership in the country. It goes like this:

Lewis (Press Secretary): People want leadership. And in the absence of genuine leadership they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership, Mr. President. They’re so thirsty for it, they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.

Shepherd (President): Lewis, we’ve had Presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty, Lewis. They drink it because they don’t know the difference.

Unfortunately, in faith circles, the Church has not consistently provided the leadership needed. Christians too often have appeared like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day whose leadership amounted to quoting the law of Moses. The thirsty must either drink or sink according to the law. However, in Christ, the thirsty are brought into a relationship with the God who loves and who seeks to have His love known. This the law by itself does not accomplish. Christianity differs because it is founded upon love and the fellowship of believers.

The thirsty among us are those whose spirits are troubled by the bitterness of life’s experiences. Like those who let the heat of summer sun cause them to faint because they did not stay hydrated, so must those who are in Christ keep their relationship fresh. A thirst for wisdom and understanding, such as was asked of God by King Solomon, offers a refreshing life. As the psalmist has written, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love … for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things (Ps 107:8-9.)”

How is your health today? Do you live with the assurance of God’s unconditional love for you?

“For whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst (John 4:14.)”

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Sam

SAM ASKEW is the pastor of Windsor Congregational Christian Church. Contact him at 242-4794.