Life is a free lunch—Lent 3, Year C (3 March 2013)

Isaiah 55.1–9
Luke 13.1–9


What if there were such a thing as a free lunch?

We’re used to hearing There’s no such thing as a free lunch. But what if there were?

In our reading from Isaiah today, he sounds like a bloke in a market stall touting for business. But instead of Fresh fruit over here!  Come and get your lovely green apples, going cheap!, Isaiah is giving it away. Literally. Remember?

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

How can he do it? How can he just give stuff away?

There’s got to be a catch.

We really don’t believe in a free lunch. And that’s strange really, because we exist in the greatest ‘free lunch’ ever. Life is a free lunch—we didn’t do anything to get here. The universe is a free lunch—we didn’t put it here. We can look after one another, and the world we live in—or we can trash the place and whatever lives in it. But that doesn’t stop life being a free gift.

God gives free lunches.

But it’s hard to believe it.

I mean, no one else gives free lunches. Everyone else has a catch. They say I’ll help you but pay me, feed me, love me, be on my side. God simply says Come.

We can’t believe it of God. Yet Isaiah says:

return to the Lord,
that he may have mercy on [you],
and to our God,
for he will abundantly pardon.

God doesn’t pardon us begrudgingly or reluctantly. No, “God…will abundantly pardon”, “God is generous with forgiveness.” (CEB) And Isaiah goes on to say:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

That’s the crux of it. God doesn’t think like us.  God doesn’t keep a count of our sins. Accountants are very useful, but God is not an accountant. There’s no ‘ledger’ of sins with your name on it.

Does God ask anything of us then? God asks this one thing: that we come, so we may receive the good things he has for us.

So are there any strings, is there a catch? No. Are there any consequences? Yes.

When God calls us to Come, God calls us to freedom and to responsibility. The gift is free and we are free. Free to accept or reject it. We are free to use this gift responsibly. Or not. We are free to live in faith—connected to the reality of God—or to reject God.

God calls us to Come, come to the water of baptism, come to the Table, come and find life through following Jesus Christ.

Come to the waters…
Come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

Those who do come find that God is good. God does abundantly pardon. God gives without strings. And we can come and live in the gratitude of knowing God’s grace.

That puzzling Gospel passage is very similar. People come to Jesus pointing the finger at the victims of falling buildings and Roman atrocity. But Jesus speaks with grace, he won’t point the finger. He says the victims were no worse than anyone else. Why then should we judge them?

Then he tells the story about the fig tree that is given one more chance. It wasn’t bearing any fruit. It was a waste of space. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. It is given another chance. What does Isaiah say?

Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near…

The word to us today is this: “Come to the waters…seek the Lord while he may be found.” The grace of God is given freely to us, including the grace of a new start. Come, for God abundantly pardons and gives new life to his children.


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One response to “Life is a free lunch—Lent 3, Year C (3 March 2013)

  1. Pingback: The Powerless Almighty Father—Lent 4C (10 March 2013) | Getting There... 2 steps forward, 1 back

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