Summary: We are confronted with many invitations, but there is only one invitation which will satisfy our needs.
“The Great Invitation”
By Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church,
Newport News, VA
“Get your hot dogs here! Only $5.00.”
“Ice cold Coke here, ice cold Coke! Only $4.50.”
That’s what we hear when we go to see a baseball, football, basketball or hockey game.
“Cotton Candy, get your Cotton Candy, only $6.00!”
What a deal.
Terry Collie and I went to see “The Passion Of The Christ” the night before we, as a church group, went together.
Before the movie we stood in the concession line. I ordered a large popcorn and a large Coke.
When Jeanne was going through our receipts a few days later, in order to do the bills, she asked me “What in the world did you eat at the movie theatre that cost $8.00?”
We had a good laugh when I told her just popcorn and a Coke.
Well, in a sense, the Prophet Isaiah opens our passage for this morning by mimicking the cries of the vendors in the marketplace: “Come all you who are thirsty…come, buy and eat!”
But notice what I left out.
Isaiah says: “and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
What is Isaiah talking about here?
Come, buy and eat…even if you have no money…
Come, buy and eat…it doesn’t cost anything!
Well, we get a picture of what he’s talking about when we look at verse 2: “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”
What he is offering is not simply bread, wine or milk…
…or popcorn or cotton candy or hot dogs or Coca-Cola…
…what he is offering is abundant life from God the “richest of fare” which comes through God’s wisdom and salvation.
And amazingly, this richest of fare is free!!!
God has already paid for it.
God has taken care of the bill.
All we have to do is come and partake of what God has already prepared for us!
Why do we spend our money and labor for things that don’t satisfy?
Think about it…
…milk is cheaper than soda pop and yet children are drinking less milk and more soda.
Now, are we really spending our money and time on what is truly good for us or are we just filling ourselves with junk?
And it’s expensive junk at that!
We are very easily swayed by the invitation of venders to spend our hard earned money on that which “does not satisfy”.
But there is another kind of Invitation that is being extended to us…that…well…it beats all other invitations hands down…yet so many of us are not swayed by it!
For there are invitations, but there is also The Great Invitation.
The Great Invitation promises more than just a good time or a wonderful experience.
This invitation is filled with more joy, fulfillment, and hope than anything else could ever give us.
There are no hidden fees or agendas, and it costs us nothing!
The Great Invitation is what many have been waiting for their whole lives.
Sound too good to be true?
Well, it’s not, because this Invitation is not of this world.
The Great Invitation comes from God, and in this case God uses the prophet Isaiah to extend the Invitation.
And it’s timeless.
It was originally extended to the people of God as they wandered in the wilderness, trying to find the way.
Soon they got so desperate that they were grasping at anything and everything that looked like an answer.
Remember the golden calf and the invitation to follow Baal?
What kinds of invitations are being made to the desperate people of today?
Too many to count, I’m afraid.
But, since the period of the Israelites, The Great Invitation from God has been offered to anyone and everyone: from prophets to peasants—from Paul to Priscilla—from mothers to monks—from Augustine to Wesley—from Billy Sunday to Billy Graham.
Many servants of God have been the mouthpiece of The Great Invitation.
Some people have accepted The Great Invitation; others have rejected it.
But The Great Invitation always stands, for it is truly the Greatest Invitation ever given to humankind.
H.G. wells, spoke of the “God-shaped blank” in the hearts of humankind.
Do any of us have a God-shaped blank in our hearts and lives?
The Great Invitation is for everyone who has been searching for meaning and fulfillment but have never found it.
The Great Invitation is for anyone who has desired so much more out of life…
…so much more than the world has to offer.
The Great Invitation is for those who feel empty, lost, and without hope.