Herrenhuter readings for Thursday, the 2nd July 2015

Kalahari-Desert

„You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water.“ (Psalm 63,1) Our Lord Jesus Christ said to St.John: “To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.“ (Revelation 21:6)

The are many different kinds of deserts. Flying over the large Saharan expanse in the northern half of Africa, you can discern rocky parts, empty and seemingly endless stretches of nothingness, mountains and valleys, loads of sand too. That’s very much like the oldest desert of all – the Namib in South-West Africa (Namibia) – you get the impressive dunes of Sossusvlei, but you also get the mountains and the riftvalleys with rocks and moonlike landscape. The Kalahari on the other is more like a green desert – lots of camel thorns and other spikey stuff – but loads of grass and vegetation. You could forget, you’re in a perfect desert and people have come to desperate ends here – like those Thirstlandtrekkers – moving with cattle herds, families, children and not finding water for days on end. In the end they perished most desperately. It’s a really dry and parched land out there – with no water.

The Israelites knew this experience firsthand. They had escaped the Egyptian tyrannts and by the grace and mercy of God had found an escape route through the Red Sea and into the safe sanctuary of the Sinai desert. That too was a dry and parched land of note – and no water. Here in this deserted and vacant land God revealed himself to the people of Israel as the one, who provides – water, food, sustenance, but also knowledge of truth, forgiveness, healing, protection, peace that passes all understanding, love and salvation. That’s not some sentimental softness, but harsh reality of survival, crucial for life and living on this world. For man lives not from bread alone, but from every word that comes from the mouth of our Lord and God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is the source and fount of life, love and all goodness. Without him and his Holy Spirit we perish in nothingness and in the fast emptiness of the dreary expanse of the lifeless cosmos.

The wonderful thing is that this very God, doesn’t hold us ransom as did those terrible tyrannts in the latest Mad Max film of fury. It’s not as if he just hands out a small cup of water now and again – just to whet our appetite. No, he lets streams of water flow in desert places. He shares divine abundance to his people like at that wedding of Cana. No wine left – and he changes gallons of water into the best and most tasty nectar. He lets rivers of water flow through the desert – like the Nile through Egypt – watering the land, making it lush and fertile and flourishing. It’s what the Orange River does in the Namib too. A long stretch of oasis all the way from the high Lesotho mountains right down to the thundering waves of the Atlantic ocean there on the richest of diamond fields too. One surprise after the other. Well, that’s just a poor reflection of God’s great goodness and mercy with which he blesses his people – free and in great surplus of magnificence and glory. And these waters nourish the fruitful trees planted around it, so that they bear fruit 12 times a year without end. Lovely, lovely is our God! Amen.

  1. Beautiful Savior, King of Creation, Son of God and Son of Man! Truly I’d love Thee, Truly I’d serve Thee, Light of my soul, my Joy, my Crown.
  2. Fair are the meadows, Fair are the woodlands, Robed in flowers of blooming spring; Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer; He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.
  3. Fair is the sunshine, Fair is the moonlight, Bright the sparkling stars on high; Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer, Than all the angels in the sky.
  4. Beautiful Savior, Lord of the nations, Son of God and Son of Man! Glory and honor, Praise, adoration, Now and forevermore be Thine!

Author of “Schönster Herr Jesus” (1677) is unknown, but it was translated by: Joseph A. Seiss, 1873

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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