A sermon preached
Reading: John 4:5-14
In the film Schindler’s List one of
the many harrowing holocaust scenes
shows a group of Jewish prisoners stripped and sent into a shower block.
They look apprehensively at the shower
nozzles to see what will come out –
they have all heard rumours of the gas chambers and wonder of this is the end –
Suddenly water comes out of the nozzles –
this is not the gas chamber after all – it really is a shower –
and they rejoice in the water as it flows over them.
In that scene there is so much of our human story –
The weakness and
vulnerability of human life –
naked you came into this world, naked you shall leave it –
Our lives so vulnerable to
the evil and sin of our fellows,
which can so easily
– at the flick of a switch –
dole out life or death.
And into this world comes Jesus –
And he talks to a woman at
the well –
we can identify with her easily, because she is like us,
She is a sinner – that is clear –
But we also suspect that she
- like most of us who have fallen low -
she is also herself a victim.
And Jesus says to her:
“I will give you the water of life”
Not just physical water but
that water of eternal life
which will overcome
q every sin,
q every brutality,
q every abuse of power,
q every act of terror –
q it will even overcome death and the gas chamber itself,
for it is the water of eternal life.
John Bunyan once wrote a tract called “The Water of Life”
In it he describes the waters of God – and he says –
Where do they flow?
Do they flow just in the high places,
amongst the mountain tops and the Church steeples?
No, he says – water flows downhill –
And he says to his poor and downcast hearers
Never the mind how low you fall –
for the water of life will always be like a stream
tumbling into the very bottom of the valley,
make its way surely to the lowest place –
And if you are in a low and
there will the water of life assuredly come.
Are you a Judas, who betrays your Lord for 30 pieces of silver?
Today we place at the foot
of the Lenten Cross a bag of coins –
symbols of Judas’ sin and ours –
we have constantly betrayed our Lord.
Today we bring the coins of
our sin and greed
and give them to Jesus.
- Not three but 30 coins in
the fountain -
Recognize that as a human race, as a nation, as individuals,
we have played Judas with the poor and needy of the world.
And yet here comes Jesus saying –
cast your burdens at the foot of the cross,
cast away the burdens of ill gotten gain,
and receive rather the water of life which I offer to you,
however low you may have fallen..
Once upon a time, so the old fable goes,
Two streams met
and looked ahead at a vast desert.
The trees were dry and withered;
Nothing grew; the mouths of the cattle were chapped.
Everything was dry, awful.
The one stream said to the other,
“What are you going to do?”
The other stream replied:
“I will travel to the desert.”
The desert said, “I am going to swallow you.
There will be no change,
for I am glad when everything is dry, withered and dead.”
The little stream flowed on,
The desert opened its mouth
Swallowed the stream,
And remained a desert.
The other stream watched all this happen, shook its head,
Turned right round,
Went on up, up, to the highest mountain,
till it reached the infinite lake.
And the infinite lake looked at the stream and said
“I have long looked or a channel.”
The stream said,
“Pour through me.”
The lake poured through the stream,
The desert said, “I will drink you up.”
The little stream flowed on and on
And swallowed up the desert
And all the barren land
blossomed like a rose.
A simple fable – but one
which tells us
deep truths about our lives as Christians –
Read the papers
Army abuses in Iraq, parents murdering children,
suicide bombers, AIDS pandemics, poverty anything but history….
and you may think evil and death have the upper hand in the world –
that the desert wastes will conquer.
Not so – love and life are ultimately the victors.
at the end of time if not before.
If the desert is to bloom like a rose in our lifetime,
then God needs human hands to help his work –
he needs us to be channels of his peace and love.
Thanks to everyone who gave
money last week for Action water-
please come to the student musical here on Friday and Saturday
and help support the same cause.
People need safe and clean water in their taps and wells.
But today we collect money for the work of
the Mission of the Church around the world.
– the envelopes say
“Sharing the Load – please support the work of the fund for world mission”
And the picture shows two people by a lakeside.
World Mission Funds help bring the water of
Physical and spiritual water – we need to bring both to a doubly thirsty world.
And if you know the parching desert places of life,
Where the sky is like burning bronze & the rocks like coals beneath your feet
If you know the blazing heat of anger or resentment,
If you know the barrenness of spiritual dryness and meaninglessness
If you know the despair of loss
Or the burning fire of guilt and remorse –
Well in Christ’s name receive and share the water of life.
I leave you with some words written over a roadside spring.
It could well have been written by a well in Samaria long long ago….
Or it could have been written for you and me at this service today-
Imagine you are stooping
to reach the water and there you read these words –
All men from all lands,
Kneel before you go.
Cup your hands
Like a bowl.
Let me overflow.
Read what these words tell
Lean down and know
Beside my brink.
Bend down low,
Bend down and drink.
I am the water of the well
That makes men whole
I am the cold water
That restores your soul.
Praise God for the water of life
q Let’s drink it
q Lets cherish it
q Lets share it.