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Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 55:1-9

1Ho, 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.  2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,   and your labor for that which does not satisfy?  Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,   and delight yourselves in rich food.  3Incline your ear, and come to me;   listen, so that you may live.  I will make with you an everlasting covenant,   my steadfast, sure love for David.  4See, I made him a witness to the peoples,   a leader and commander for the peoples.  5See, you shall call nations that you do not know,   and nations that do not know you shall run to you,  because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,   for he has glorified you.  6Seek the Lord while he may be found,   call upon him while he is near;  7let the wicked forsake their way,   and the unrighteous their thoughts;  let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,   and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  8For my thoughts are not your thoughts,   nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  9For as the heavens are higher than the earth,   so are my ways higher than your ways   and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I love this passage from Isaiah for two reasons. The first it begins with “Ho!” It is the cry of the merchant in the marketplace inviting the shoppers to his store. Come in and see the things I have for sale!

The second is that which is offered – the very best – the gift of God given without price.

Back in August of 2001, just three weeks before 9/11, our family went on vacation to New York City. While there, our family met up with an old friend. His name is Bobby. We have known Bobby for many years - he was in High School when we were on Internship down in Fort Worth, Texas. Bobby was active in the youth group, and we have kept in touch over the years.

Bobby is no longer a high school kid. He attended culinary arts school, became a chef, and is now the manager of the steakhouse at the Marriott Marquis, which is right on Time Square. Bobby made reservations for us, picked his favorite waitress to wait on us, and treated us like royalty.

The waitress asked us what kinds of food we liked, and didn’t like, and gave us some tips on what to order. The prices on the menu were scary, let me tell you. We could do a month at McDonald’s with the money we could spend on one meal here.

For appetizers, we were given a sampler of a few appetizers, including salads, shrimp the size of your hand, and steak tar tar, and other foods I can’t even pronounce.

While we ate, we looked out the 8th floor window at Time Square, with all of its lights and all the people. We tried to imagine what it must look like on New Year’s Eve.

Then the main course - the kids had steaks, and Lisa had the pork chop with apple-butter glaze. I had chicken smothered in parmesan cheese. Again, we had a sampler of the side dishes, which were wonderful. It was one of the most delicious and most enjoyable meals I have ever had.

The table was cleared, it was time to go. The waitress thanked us and said, “I hope you enjoyed your meal. The bill has been taken care of, you are free to go when you are ready.”

What a gift. What a treat. It wasn’t because of our status, or importance in the company, or that New York has to get out of the way because the Woodwards are in town. No. It was a gift. I share this with you not to boast or brag. No. I share this with you because I was so moved by this gift. In a way, I was reminded of God’s love for us, and the greatest gift in love he gives for us.

Through Jesus Christ, we are given a gift of love, a place at the table, a meal that is beyond belief. Jesus is the host. We are the guests. The price has been paid. Through Jesus Christ, we are promised the best God can give. What else do we need?

Let us pray: Thank you, God for your amazing grace! We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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