Sunday, 13 January 2013

Credo – I believe Cre do I give my heart

Epiphany 2 year C Sermon 13 John 4:1-42
Title slide
Drink deeply of the water I offer you
and you will never thirst.

Jesus words… so remind me of Joy Cowley’s poem ...The quiet pool…I have to share it with you / she writes

There is within each of us… a quiet /
clear pool of living water/
fed by the one deep Source/
and inseparable from it,

but so often hidden by a tangle of activity/
that we may not know… of its existence.

We can spend the proverbial forty years
wandering in strange deserts
Sinking unrewarding wells
And moving on…driven by our thirst

But when we stop still/ long enough
To look inside ourselves/…really look
Beyond our ideas about water
and what and where it should be
We discover it was with us… all the time
That quiet clear pool… which is… ageless
The meaning of our existence
And the answer to all wanderings

And as we drink/ we know what Jesus
meant when he said/ we’d never be thirsty again. [pause]

And Jesus says to the woman at the well
Drink deeply of the water I offer you
and you will never thirst.

We often overlook Jesus promise…that this reviving will come from within us and not from outside. But… when we look closely at the story in John’s gospel for today that’s exactly what it says.

At first the woman at the well certainly thinks
it’ll come from outside her…doesn’t she…
when she questions Jesus…

but sir you have nothing to draw water with…
and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Do you think you’re greater than our
father Jacob…who gave us this well… and drank from it himself…as did his sons and his animals?”

And Jesus adds more to the mystery, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again…but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.

Slide words
Really…Jesus says… the water I give them…
will become in them… a spring of water…
welling up to eternal life.

In the Greek: Zoe = Zoe eternal life = an imperishable relationship with God. [pause]

And the woman responds…
“Sir, give me this water so I won’t get thirsty
and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Blank slide
And we want it too… don’t we?
Again and again we hear this story from John’s Gospel.

Again and again…we open our hearts to the promise of refreshment Jesus offers

But in our everyday lives...
do we act like we actually believe him...
do we go to Jesus for refreshment… for reviving
when we’re dried out and frustrated
and at the end of our tether?

Do we seek an encounter with God in Jesus
through prayer or contemplation?

or do we actually look for a different kind of fix…to satisfy our longing… our emptiness
or our thirst for love…

maybe your first impulse is to open the fridge door
or the chocolate box…maybe booze cabinet…
a little retail therapy or a game of golf…

Perhaps you lose yourself in a romantic novel…a game of solitaire… or in fantasy... or gambling or pornography

But Jesus is telling this woman at the well that…
 if she really wants deep and abiding soul quenching…
it will only be found through receiving
what he has to give…

And isn’t that the essence of our faith…receiving and giving love…
John’s story of the woman at the well… reminds us… that the Christian faith… is a love story
between God and all creation…between God and us.
In faith we believe in this love story…

Slide words
Did you know that in the Gospels when someone says ‘I believe’ they use the Greek word ‘credo’ which comes from ‘cor do’ (I give my heart).

Faith to the gospel writers… was an affair of the heart.
An intimate encounter between God and every one of us.. And the encounter between Jesus… and the woman at the well…is a perfect example.

At the well…heart speaks to heart
both people reveal themselves to each other.

And in my own experience this is an encounter we can seek out…whenever we’re aware of our own thirst or emptiness.

To often we interpret belief as a head thing …or faith as a set of propositional statements…that we rationally accept. And sometimes we need to remember these…
But the living water Jesus is offering
is relational… not intellectual…It’s about God’s willingness to know us and be known by us.

Jesus tells the woman who he is…and she tells him about her life. They come from different ethnic and religious backgrounds…and through this conversation
Jesus reveals to her…the confluence of faith that is happening…as he inaugurates the kingdom of God.

No matter what your religious or ethnic background is Jesus is saying…a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father
in the Spirit and in truth,

For they’re the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. Jesus says…
God is spirit, and God’s worshipers
must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
It won’t matter if you’re in Jerusalem or Samaria…

Intrigued… the woman says…I’ve heard the anointed one of God is coming…the one the Jews call Messiah
and the Greeks…call the Christ…
and that he will proclaim the truth about all things.”

And in that moment of intimacy…
there’s no distance of gender or culture or religion between Jesus and a woman who to all other rabbis would be an unclean foreigner and not even worth talking to…

and Jesus reveals to her… who is really is…

Slide words
“I, the very one talking to you—I am he.”

This woman had been hearing about the Messiah’s coming all her life…but hearing about it never brought her living water. In her joy… she rushes off to tell her friends and neighbours…
but her witness doesn’t bring them living water…

Only when they encounter Jesus for themselves
do they believe.

Yes, the story shows…it’s good for us to have knowledge about God and about Jesus,
but this is not enough. Yes, the story shows
the witness of other believers is helpful…
but that too is not enough.

Like the woman at the well…John wants us to have
a personal encounter with God… in the person of Jesus…so a relationship of intimacy can form…so faith can grow…a relationship where hearts are given…

And the way we encounter this relationship…
is in prayer…speaking and listening…

where else will we get the energy and the strength and the courage…to love and serve others in Jesus’ name when the well of our own resources has run dry.

and the beautiful thing is…because it’s a love story
we have the freedom to say yes from our heart
every day…the freedom to sit and chat
and to reveal ourselves to each other.

And every day when we pray… like the Samaritan woman…we come privately to our well… with our needs and our questions.

And every day…just as her life was transformed forever … by her encounter with Jesus…
our lives can be reformed… around and through him.