Despite COVID-19 altering so many of our daily life schedules, Rev. Taylor felt it important to still share the sermon he prepared for all of us. Please find the words of our Pastor below and may they be the calming and spiritual drink you need to quench your thirst during these trying times. May it be so!
From Rev. Taylor, Today’s Sermon:
In this mornings planned Scripture readings, people were thirsting and looking for the only thing they believed could quench it, namely water.
In our first reading from the 17th chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus, it was ancient Israelites. They had been enslaved in Egypt, had been liberated by Moses and had passed through the Red Sea in the way to what they believed was a land God had promised to them.
On the way they had to pass through wilderness and desert where they would end up wandering for a long time. The land they were passing through was hot, humid and dry, with little rain falling throughout the year. Water was carried in skin bags and replenished either by occasional rain, morning dew or springs.
From the account in Exodus we learned that the Israelites water supply had run out and they complained to Moses and demanded he find a way to replenish it. Moses then prayed to God and a new source of water was found to quench his people’s thirst.
In our second reading from the 4th chapter of John’s Gospel, it was Jesus and a woman from Samaria who were thirsting.
Prior to our story Jesus had been baptizing in Judea with his disciples and had gone on from there to Galilee, choosing to take the shortest route, which took him through Samaria. It was in one of Samaria’s towns called Sychar, some 40-miles from where his journey had begun, that Jesus’s own water supply had run out leaving him thirsting.
Now it was noon and the heat and humidity was sapping Jesus’ energy and making him feel dehydrated. Fortunately Jesus knew of a well in Sychar that had been established generations before by one of the great patriarchs of his Jewish faith, Jacob, and continued to flow from underground spring.
When Jesus arrived at Jacob’s Well he saw a woman there. She had come to draw water for herself and those in her household to supply their needs for the day.
Now both Jesus and the Samaritan woman were thirsting for things other than water.
When Jesus said to the woman, “Give me a drink” he was asking for and needing something more than water from Jacob’s Well. Like any human being, Jesus was searching for love, acceptance and to be heard and understood.
He had already been despised and rejected by the leaders of his own religion and even his disciples often did not hear or understand him. So maybe in saying to the woman “Give me a drink”, he was hoping she might give him those things he thirsted for.
Now like Jesus the woman at the well was also thirsting for more than water. As a woman she was given little value outside her role as wife and mother.
As someone who had been unlucky enough to have been married five times because her husbands either divorced her or died, she was shunned and condemned by her people and forced to get water by herself at the least opportune time of the day.
In addition to a being a scorned female, the woman at the well was a Samaritan who was viewed by Jews as illegitimate. So in essence she had three strikes against her.
Having been judged, condemned, devalued and dismissed, Jesus knew that the woman thirsted for things like acceptance, understanding, value, sympathy and kindness.
Now, like Jesus and especially the Samaritan woman, we also are thirsting for many things other than water. Things like recognition and praise, wealth and success, love and affirmation, forgiveness and reconciliation, knowledge and truth, peace and contentment, meaning and purpose and safety and security.
Knowing what the Samaritan woman (and all of us) was searching for, Jesus said, “ I will give you living water.” To which she replied, “ How can you give me this water when when do don’t even have a bucket or rope from which to draw it from the well?”
But the water Jesus offered to give the woman could not be found at the bottom of a well. For it was a different kind of water, one that instead of offering temporary relief made one not want to thirst anymore. Jesus called it living water and it gave a person life now and eternally in the life to come.
The living water Jesus spoke of was God, Himself and their Holy Spirit. When a person believed in God, in God’s Word as revealed in and through Jesus and in their Holy Spirit, their thirsting would be quenched.
After a life time of thirsting after things that could not be satisfied until he believed in God, St. Augustine confessed, “My heart is restless until it rests in thee.”
And, poet John Greenleaf Whittier expressed a similar sentiment when he wrote “Drop thy still dew of quietness till all our strivings cease, take from our souls the strain and stead and let our ordered lives confess the beauty of thy peace.”
When we believe in God, in God’s Word as revealed in Jesus and their Holy Spirit, our thirsting and striving for the things of this world cease and we become quenched, satisfied, content and at peace.
As I write this sermon we are in the throws of one of the most anxious times in recent memory as the Coronavirus sweeps through our world putting the lives of its people at risk.
Recently I asked a woman from Peru who occasionally comes to clean my house to give me her feelings of the pandemic. She said “Of course I am worried and concerned like everyone else, after all, I clean houses and work in a nursing home. But I believe in God and in his Son Jesus Christ, and I trust them to abide with me and give me peace as they do in all my trials.”
This woman’s faith would not stop the spread of the Coronavirus or stop her from being infected with it. Only good hygiene, good nutrition, containment and the virus running its course would do that.
But the living water Jesus offered her, which she drank, calms her anxieties and striving for the things she cannot control and allows her to turn them over to God. And, this gives her peace.
I’m not sure whether the Samaritan woman at the well knew what Jesus meant by living water. But clearly she expressed a willingness to receive what Jesus offered, especially if it would satisfy her thirst. And, that it did when it gave her the love, acceptance and value she so desperately wanted and needed.
Friends, our God knows we are thirsting after many things and our God knows the many ways we try to quench them.
But Jesus also knows the only thing that really will quench our thirst is the living water He can give. The Samaritan woman asked for it, will we?
And, if we do, like her will we tell others about how it is refreshing us and giving us peace? Even in these most anxious of times?