On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, "This is really the prophet." Others said, "This is the Messiah." But some asked, "Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?" So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why did you not arrest him?" The police answered, "Never has anyone spoken like this!" Then the Pharisees replied, "Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law - they are accursed." Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, "Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?" They replied, "Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee." John 7:37-52
We arrived home last night, after delays, illness and minor disasters. What a lovely feeling, despite all the challenges, to come home, to be pounced on by a loving dog and to settle in again. We didn't put much away, but just took inventory of what we need to do, and were very grateful. Grateful to be home again, for all the people who took our parts when we were gone, and for making it through a very complicated journey. I am reminded of being a child in the summer. Like most people my age, we spent our days outside, running and playing (when the chores were done, of course). We had a little bubbling attachment to the hose and we refreshed ourselves there. It was cold and delightful, a taste of heaven, even out of the hose. In a sense, that's exactly how I felt last night.
Jesus finds himself at the end of the festival and offered folks a taste of heaven. This moment, like all of them in his ministry, did not come without controversy and challenge. With the Son of God in their midst, the religious leaders doubted him. He lacked credentials and came from inappropriate place. This clouded their insight and understanding. Even Nicodemus could not persuade them. But many in the crowd knew what it was like to be thirsty, to be rejected, an alien without proper credentials, and to be on the road a very long time. The words they heard were a taste of heaven to the poorest of the poor, a welcome to the stranger, the lost and the forgotten.
Today, I ask God to help me offer welcome and refreshment to all those I come in contact with today. May we be agents of the in-breaking of God's reign, where all are welcome, all are fed, and all who are thirsty are given the water of life.