I don't know if this has come up before, but I'm a bit of a bicyclist!

I remember so clearly one race I had done a few years ago. It was the first race of the season, and I was really only doing it to get myself ready for the rest of the season that was coming. I had no goals, no desires, no stated outcomes that I wanted to accomplish with this race, just finish in one piece and I'd be happy. But unfortunately, the race was really not at all well marked out. Sometimes my teammates and I would go for miles before we would see any signs or road markings telling us where to go. And then suddenly I found myself separated from my team. And then I was lost. And then I ran out of water.

It didn't end well.

I don't know if you've ever had the experience of being truly thirsty, but I can say with conviction that it's terrible. Suddenly nothing else matters. All I wanted in the world was to find somewhere that I could fill up my water bottle, drink it, and then fill it up again. My body started to ache. I was tired. I was parched. I just wanted a little sip. Eventually I found my way back to the course, but I had missed the last water stop in my wandering. I was defeated in body and spirit.

Jesus reminds us in today's Gospel lesson that the thirsty are to come to him, and he will fulfill them. How could there be anything more basic? Jesus is the offering to our parched souls. He is the one that can take us through the seasons of life where we feel dried up, used up, burnt out, and defeated and bring us back to life. Sometimes that refreshment takes the form of Jesus offering us words of comfort. Sometimes it takes the form of Jesus offering us challenge, like clay that has hardened before it was done being molded and needs to be moistened. But either way, Jesus is the drink of water we so desperately need.

The people around Jesus try to run in theological directions. Can a prophet really come from where Jesus comes from? What does our tradition say about this? But while a good, theologically spirited debate has it's place, there is nothing quite like cozying up to the well and taking a deep long drink.

Eventually, as I was climbing one of the last monster climbs on that fateful race, there was a man who out of the goodness of his heart purchased a few gallons of water, kept them on ice, and was handing them out to riders. He was a pudgy, German man, but I wanted to kiss him. There is nothing quite like finding refreshment where you need it.

So friends, today I encourage you to find your refreshment in Jesus. He's around today. And he's willing to give us something to drink.

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