Sermon - "Living Water"
(3 March 2002 - 3rd Sunday of Lent)
Focus (What does the text say?): Jesus promises unending life to those
who ask it of him. The excitement of realizing who Jesus is seems to be
Function (How will the text affect its listeners?): To realize the
exciting implications of following Christ. In a world that is often
confused, we have a clarity of mission. In a world of sickness and
hunger and death, we have eternal nourishment. In a world of broken
relationships and loneliness, we have eternal communion with our Creator
and our fellow humans.
Introduction - Water in Texas
We have an advantage as we try to understand this reading, since we
live in Texas. Like the woman at the well, we are always in need of
water. When I garden, I cannot seem to ever get enough water to my
plants to keep them going through the summer.
This is like life. When we start a job or a relationship, it is like
springtime. The growth comes easily. But as time goes by, the cool
spring weather is replaced by the heat of summer. And instead of new
growth, we merely struggle for survival. If we cannot get the ôliving
waterö we dry up and wither away.
In this reading, this woman has had a series of husbands and apparently
has given up on the idea of marriage. But this woman whose life has
been marked by broken relationships is offered an eternal relationship.
And not only that but she is able to bring many more people to a similar
encounter with Jesus. We too can exchange our failures and broken
dreams for a new and eternal and good life.
Being Hungry and Thirsty
A few weeks ago we read the beatitudes from Matthew. One of them said,
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Why, we
often wonder, would someone be considered blessed because they lack
something? Perhaps they are blessed because they can be truly thankful
when the thing for which they hunger and thirst is given to them.
This woman at the well receives JesusÆ message with excitement. She
shares that message and brings others to learn from Jesus. However, in
the next chapter of John, we learn that other people, when seeing Jesus
heal a lame man, do not welcome Jesus, instead they get angry. These
people, unlike the woman at the well, are comfortable in life, they have
a respected place in society. They are satisfied with the life they
have built for themselves. And because they no longer hunger and thirst
for something more, they do not welcome Jesus.
And so . . . maybe we can learn to hunger and thirst in a way that
leaves us ready to receive GodÆs blessing. Maybe the disappointments in
our lives can be used to steer us towards God. Alcoholics Anonymous is
an organization in which people who know what it is to be an alcoholic
reach out to help people whose lives are under the control of alcohol.
Their experience is that people who have felt the unique pain of
alcoholism are uniquely equipped to help others regain control of life,
with GodÆs help.
Perhaps our thirst for something is one way God calls us in life. Take
time to think about the things you long for. Not too long ago, an
opportunity was given to our congregation to begin a tutoring program in
our local elementary school. When we began to talk about this, many
people realized they felt a yearning to help kids, but had never known
how. This program made it very simple and very organized. That magical
combination of organization and spiritual yearning has developed into a
mentoring program that is a very important part of our ministry and a
very important part of our local elementary school. There are 20 kids
who were struggling in school, who now have something to look forward to
in school each week. And there are Church members who may have felt
somewhat disconnected with our community, who are now an important part
of the schools and community. There is an excitement about this
mentoring program that arises from faithfully answering GodÆs call to
This faithful following Christ does indeed give us life, like living
water falling on a parched land. In a world that is often confused, we
have a clarity of mission. In a world of sickness and hunger and death,
we have eternal nourishment. In a world of broken relationships and
loneliness, we have eternal communion with our Creator and our fellow
humans. Let us keep on searching for ways to share this living water
with those around us. Amen.