A Sermon for Those Who Are Parched
Updated: Feb 16, 2022
St. Philip Lutheran Church
13 February 2022 + Lect. 6c (Epiphany 6)
Rev. Josh Evans
What is filling your cup?
Every Monday morning, I get a weekly email from a friend who serves as a pastor in the Milwaukee area. These emails always include a short devotion – which, admittedly, I don’t always faithfully read as much as I’d like to – as well as some announcements about her podcast and other things related to her ministry.
The one feature I always do read, though, is what she calls “Monday Morning S.H.I.F.T.” – where she shares five things from her life going into the week ahead and invites her readers to do the same:
where we are finding the (S)acred
what is giving us (H)ope
what is (I)nspiring us
what is (F)illing our cup
and what we’re (T)hankful for
in hopes that it’ll shift us into a positive gear as we enter our week.
Most Mondays, by the time I read Pastor Kelsey’s email, coffee has filled (and refilled) my cup at least once or twice. Sometimes, that’s the most honest and valid answer to that question – especially on a Monday morning.
What is filling my cup? Beyond coffee, that image has been a helpful question for me in my own life and in my spirituality in particular.
Especially when the cup is running low or completely dry.
We know that feeling well these days. When we feel like a shrub in the desert. Living in parched places.
We are weary and tired. It feels like we’re running on empty. Fresh out of hope or joy or patience. We long to be filled.
We know what it is to be hungry now. To be thirsty now. To weep now. It hardly feels like being “blessed.”
We long to be filled, to drink deeply from the stream, to experience deep and abundant joy and love and healing and hope.
For me, it comes back to water.
“Have you had water today?” is the question I ask myself when I’m feeling tired or irritable, struggling to concentrate, or have a headache. Usually the answer is no, despite the 32-ounce water bottle I filled up and put in my bag before I left for work that day. “Well, coffee technically has water in it” is not the answer either.
Our bodies need water – and they have ways of telling us when they’re being deprived or dehydrated. Of course, drinking a glass of water isn’t a cure-all, but it certainly goes a long way.
We need water to live.
For much of my adult life, I’ve always lived near water. When I was on my internship in Omaha, I’d often take the short drive down to the Old Market, park my car, and go for a walk along the riverfront of the Missouri River, crossing the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge over to the less-developed and more peaceful Iowa side. In those waterfront moments, I would take time to clear my head, to process whatever the week had thrown at me or whatever I was going through, to pray, and to center myself.
More recently, living on the south side of Milwaukee, my apartment was only a five-minute walk to a quiet park on Lake Michigan. At the beginning of the pandemic, when the world was on lockdown, that walk and those waters became a lifeline for me – one of the few places I could safely go outside of my apartment.
These water-moments have filled my cup.
It’s not surprising that both Jeremiah and the psalmist find promise and reassurance in water:
“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord… They shall be like a tree planted by water.”
“Their delight is in the law [the torah, the teaching] of the Lord… They are like trees planted by streams of water.”
It all comes back to water. At the font where we celebrated Annie’s baptism last Sunday, where we give thanks the water stories of our faith, where we remember our own baptisms.
Here, God’s powerful word of promise is poured out in abundance in plain water.
Here, our cups are filled – and overflowing.
Here, we who are hungry and thirsty now are filled today.
Here, we who weep now laugh with joy today.
Here, we experience the fulfillment of God’s promises for us – and we are blessed.
Our scripture readings today name the parched reality we often find ourselves in, longing to be filled.
These scriptures also carry a message of great promise and reassurance, beckoning us back to the source of life, to the one who names us and claims us as beloved in the waters of baptism and who daily renews us in these waters and promises to fill us when we’re running on empty.
Come to the waters.
Put down your roots.
Drink and be filled.