Saturday, October 10, 2015

An Over-the-Top Promise (Sermon for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost) John 6:35-51

John 6:35-51 (Part of our 'I Am' statement sermon series) 
Calvary - St. George's Church, Manhattan 

Upon accepting his party’s nomination at the 1988 Republican National Convention, Vice President George H. W. Bush gave an address with an iconic line, “Read my lips: No new taxes.” This pledge not to tax the American people further had been a consistent part of his platform, but its prominent use in this speech, with those words, cemented it in the public consciousness. The impact of the promise was considerable, and many Bush supporters believed it helped him win the election.

As many of you remember, this line would also prove to be his undoing. Compromise had to be reached; taxes had to be raised. First Pat Buchanan in the primaries, and then Bill Clinton in the 1992 general election, relentlessly cited this line to question Bush’s trustworthiness. For George H. W. the dream of a two-term presidency died with a broken promise.

Now, of course, it's not just Republican presidential candidates who fail to remain true to their word. According to one popular fact checking website, Barack Obama has broken over a hundred campaign promises. He just never opened any with 'read my lips.' So whether the presidential candidate is Republican or Democrat, you and I are all too familiar with far-fetched campaign promises. 

Last week, we heard Jesus give an over-the-top promise. If you remember, he told the Samaritan woman at the well, “those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty.” This Sunday, instead of being like most of our politicians and backing down from his promise once elected, Jesus only ups the ante: "Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty" he says, and "Whoever comes to me will never be hungry."