Pastor Rick's March 15th Sunday Message
Greetings and blessings to you on this Sunday morning. How lovely it was to awake today to the sound of rain gently falling upon the land that needs it so.
Our meditation today is an excerpt from The Odes of Solomon:
Drink deeply from the living fountain of God.
It is yours.
Come, all who are thirsty, and drink,
and rest by the fountain.
How beautiful and clear.
It restores the soul. -- Ode 30: 1 - 3
A wonderful invitation to seek the source of refreshment, rest and renewal in this time. It calls us into the Sabbath, which for Christians is every Sunday. And we may also need more frequent “sabbath moments” throughout the week as well. I encourage you to create more space for that which renews you and brings you peace.
And this morning perhaps you might read through this message and liturgy slowly, pausing to reflect on whatever arises in your mind and heart.
The gospel reading for today is John 4:5-42. It’s the story about Jesus who, thirsty from traveling and arriving at a historic well, asks a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. This begins a lengthy conversation they have that turns out to be about a wellspring of living water that flows within us.
Our call to worship today also flows from that theme. It is an adaptation of a poem by Tich Nhat Hanh. How nice to have the morning rain accompany us in the call to worship!
Call To Worship: (Tich Nhat Hanh)
Water flows from high in the mountains.
Water runs deep in the Earth.
Miraculously, water comes to us, and sustains all life.
Water flows over these hands. May we use them skillfully to preserve our precious planet.
Water and sun greens these plants.
When the rain of compassion falls, even a desert becomes an immense, green ocean.
Ah, this rain, this water of life, flows in acts of compassion. Let it flow in us today. Compassion for those who are ill, those who are scared, those who are suffering. Compassion for ourselves as well as we work to remain mindful and compassionate. This is a process, not an achievement.
As I worked on the sermon this week it struck me how so many of the stories that are found only in the gospel of John have water as a significant theme. The story of the wedding in Cana where Jesus turns six large stone vessels into fine wine. The story of Nicodemus’ visit at night in which Jesus tells him one must be born of water and of spirit. Today’s story in which Jesus claims to be the water of life springing up within us. And then, towards the very end of John’s gospel, after Jesus had died on the cross, a soldier pierces his side with a sword and from his side flows blood and water (John 19:33-34).
I have always thought that the focus on water was a product of the Johanine Community’s baptismal theology and practice. And I still think that. But I also think it points to something beyond that. It’s important to remember that in all the interesting and unique stories we read in John, it is always those who understand things literally that get it wrong. Nicodemus is one example. Water for the Johanine Community is a rich metaphor for the spiritual life and it carries many meanings. It flows at a wedding banquet as it turns into fine, celebratory wine. It flows like the wind/spirit in the lives of an inclusive community of compassion and kindness. It flows from within us. And even after death it continues to flow for the healing and renewal of the world. And in our crisis today it will flow in every act of lovingkindness.
How fortunate we are that for the brief time we have in this life get to be vessels of such grace and love.
How blessed we are that we have a deep connection to a greater love and grace than we can yet imagine.
My life flows on in endless song; above earth’s lamentation,
I hear the sweet, though far off hymn that hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul how can I keep from singing?
-Robert Wadsworth Lowry
To listen to a recording of this song, here’s a link to Enya’s recording. (Just remember to mute your volume until after the loud advertisements have finished.)
Be at peace today,
Notice the goodness and grace that surround you.
Focus on what is good, true and kind.
Your partner in our shared ministry,