Here is the sermon I gave at St. Peter’s on Sunday March 19th.
You learn how much you appreciate something when it is in short supply or no longer available. Case in point lately, warmer weather and daylight first thing in the morning. By the end of the winter you really appreciate how valuable it is to be able to spend time outside comfortably, to spend an afternoon gardening, barbecuing, or to go for a walk.
Unlike the seasons, the living water Jesus gives to us, the relationship we have with God through our Savior does not come and go- but stays with us. As a result we can easily take for granted this gift that is so basic to our lives and our well being.
The opening psalms and verses and hymns we sing or speak at the start of worship would not be things we could say if we did not have this living water Jesus provides without limit- this new life in Christ.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, come into His presence with Thanksgiving? If we were still estranged from God and enemies of God how could we make glad sounds of joy before the Lord, how could we even come into his presence? Instead of longing for the courts of the Lord, we would fear God and want to hide from God. We would not be able to invoke his triune name to begin our worship, we would not receive his name upon us, because we would not know God as our dear Father.
The fact is we do have the living water that Jesus gives. There is no shortage. In our Epistle reading we see that we have this priceless gift because, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The church has living water from the well of salvation because Jesus allowed himself to be broken on the cross.
While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us! The people sinned against Moses in the wilderness, demanding of Moses water, even threatening revolt and his death. Yet despite this great sin God still provided water from the rock Moses struck. While Israel was yet in sin and rebellion against God, they were given a living spring to drink from.
Elsewhere in scripture St. Paul describes Christ as the rock that Moses struck, making a literary connection between Moses striking the rock to receive life giving water from God, and how Jesus was stricken on the cross for our sins, giving us life giving salvation. The common link between these two events is that while we were yet sinners, God provided His gift to us.
In our gospel lesson we meet a woman who is clearly not without sin. Her choices in life and scorning of God’s design in marriage were so shameful to her that she seems to have developed a habit to draw water at noon, during the heat of the day- to avoid contact with everyone else who would come earlier in the morning or toward evening.
She does not know about how to worship God or how to relate to Jesus, and yet Jesus meets with her and talks to her. While yet deep in her sin, Jesus offers her living water.
She who has failed at marriage and continues to struggle with the same sin is given the chance to meet with Jesus at a well, the very same well where Jacob met his wife. You can see a theme in the scripture where wells are places that are associated with marriage, Isaac meets Rebecca at a well and Moses also meets his wife at a well.
The Holy Spirit is showing how this woman is receiving the gift of the one true and perfect marriage between Christ the bridegroom and she as the church the bride of Christ- receiving living water from Jesus, the gift of salvation while we were yet sinners.
Once the Samaritan woman received this faith in Jesus, she could not help but tell the town that she believed she had met the Savior.
While the unbelieving world is yet in sin, we are called to love them and offer them the living water of Christ! In chapter 7 of the gospel of John Jesus describes the work of the Holy Spirit in the church: “Whoever believes in me as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” We have the same gift of living water to give to the world as Jesus gave to the woman at the well.
We give this gift with great joy. Isaiah chapter 12 proclaims: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation, and you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the Lord for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout for joy O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy one of Israel.”
When we drink deeply from the well of salvation we can’t help but point others to the great deeds the Lord has done for us. We can’t help but acknowledge how great is his name in our lives.
As we make know God’s name among the nations, we share this living water to a world that is yet in the darkness of sin. Sure it’s often hard to love those who hold many social and political values that seem to make a mockery out of God’s Word and God’s law.
It’s hard to love those who may hold human pride as their god and give no recognition to the one true God, who call evil good, and call good evil. Who may call us bigoted or prejudiced or even fascist, simply for holding to a position that salvation is found in Christ alone and none other, or through our affirming that we hold that all of God’s Word is inspired even those parts that may condemn the sins of particular neighbors in our community. While yet sinners, Christ died for the world.
Jeremiah chapter 2 records the sin of Israel over looking living water provided to them. “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
How sad to think that so many people today chose to make their own broken cisterns, slowly perishing of thirst as these flawed vessels consistently fail to hold any water. This imagery of the poorly crafted cistern full of cracks accurately describes what is happening when people try to find fulfillment and meaning in life apart from God.
When you have the opportunity to talk with someone who does not place their hope in Christ- try asking them questions about what brings them fulfillment and meaning in life. Find out what if anything they look to for hope. Likely they will either identify little that gives hope, or hope will be defined in terms of what they can create and shape with their own efforts.
Jesus told the Samaritan woman that everyone who drinks of the water of Jacob’s well will be thirsty again. Whatever fulfillment people find, whatever thirst quenching they can dig up on their own, will be only temporary.
When we see people quenching their thirst for fulfillment in such a temporary and futile manor, we should not keep it a secret that in Jesus we have fulfillment and life in an unquenchable abundance, a spring flowing into eternal life.
Even within our own families and with our brothers and sisters in Christ here at St. Peter’s, we should encourage one another to drink deeply from the well of God’s Word.
If you have children who are enrolled in Lutheran Central, certainly make a point to talk to and invite new parents in the congregation to consider and look forward to enrolling their children in Lutheran central, a school that allows children to be filled with God’s Word in their daily schooling!
If you enjoy a topic from Sunday morning Bible Study, tell others in the congregation what they are missing out on and invite them to also drink from God’s Word with you in this capacity.
If you would like to have a fellowship that meets in your home about two times a month, where you learn and discuss God’s Word and encourage one another in your faith, pursue making this opportunity to drink from the well of salvation in your home with others a reality. Any pastor would be more than happy to walk you through how to make this happen. Drink deeply from the well of salvation here at St. Peter’s.
If you would like to be a part of a group that meets at church one evening a week to read through the Bible one book at a time, a simple Today’s Light study, this can be arranged, there is plenty of room in the church- don’t let the phrase “We’ve never done this here before.” Stop you from drinking deeply from the well of God’s Word.
While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. God loves us for who we are, not for what we have done or promise to do from God. Receive the gift of living water from our Savior, not out of guilt or obligation, but in simple thanksgiving. Share this gift with others and rejoice in how great our God’s name is on the earth. Amen.