This blog will include the sermons I have preached as a lay minister with the Anglican Parish of South Queens in the Diocese of NS and PEI in the Anglican Church of Canada. Because my preaching schedule varies, the frequency of postings will vary.
I hope that these sermons will enrich your spiritual life as much as they have enriched mine.
Saturday, 22 March 2014
John 4:5-42 A Heavenly Well Full of Spiritual Gifts
once was a man who was not well-educated and rather rough and crude around the
edges, but he was recently converted and was on fire for the Lord. He
constantly asked the minister to give him some work that would be helpful to
the church. Finally, the minister gave the man a list of ten people who hadn’t
been in church for years nor made any financial contribution. Some of these
people were quite prominent in the community. The minister said, “What I want
you to do is get these people back to church, however you can. You can use
church stationery if you want, but get these people back to church.”
weeks later the minister got an envelope in the mail from a prominent doctor
whose name was on the list, along with a cheque for $1,000.00 and a note that
read, “Dear Reverend, please excuse my inactivity at church. I really have no
excuse. Accept this cheque as a partial contribution for all the Sundays I’ve
missed, and be assured I will never, by choice, miss worship again.
J.B. Jones, M.D.
Will you kindly tell your secretary that there is only one “t” in dirty and no
“c” in skunk?”
4:5-42 marks a shift in Jesus ministry. It marks a shift from ministry to the
Jews only to ministry to both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus had to go through
Samaria. God is willing to go anywhere to meet us as sinners. No one is outside
the reach of God’s love. God’s gifts are for outsiders. Those who consider
themselves worthy of those gifts will be in for a nasty surprise!
It was ironic that he, as a Jew, went through
Samaria. The Assyrians defeated Samaria and took many Samaritans into
captivity. Those remaining in Samaria intermarried with non-Jewish people,
which compromised their ethnic identity and went against many Jewish customs
regarding cleanliness. Later, the
Babylonians defeated Judea and took many Judeans into captivity.The Judeans managed to maintain their
identity while in captivity.When they
were finally allowed to return to Judea, they rebuilt the temple.The Samaritans offered to help, but were
rebuffed because of their mixed heritage.They later built their own temple on Mount Gerizim, which started a
continuing controversy regarding the proper place of worship. John Hyrcanus destroyed the Gerizim temple in
he was human, Jesus was tired. To make matters worse, he was travelling during
the hottest part of the day, so he was thirsty. Jesus took the initiative by
speaking to the woman. In Jewish society, that was a taboo. It was against the
culture and traditions for a man to speak to a woman in public unless she was
his wife. The woman also broke with tradition by going to the well during the
hottest part of the day. Normally women came to the well in the morning or in
the evening. While they were getting water, they would catch up on all the news
or gossip (much like people around here do when they go to the barber, the
beauty salon or Tim Horton’s!J
)If the immoral woman showed up at the same time, she would have been the
target of their gossip.
often used physical things to teach spiritual lessons. When he mentioned living
water, he was referring to the spiritual water that he can offer to all
believers, but the woman thought he was referring to physical water. Jesus knew
that the woman was searching for something that would give her life meaning.
That is why he offered her living water. That is also why he made the comment
about her five husbands. The woman did have a spiritual hunger, and so did the
Samaritans. They thirsted for the truth, and their thirst made it possible for
them to see that Jesus was the living water gushing up to eternal life.
are also restless and unsatisfied even though we have access to all sorts of
earthly treasures. Just look at all of the rich celebrities who have died
because of drug overdoses. The world searches for relevance and significance
without success. People go from one relationship to another, from one activity
to the next, and from one fashion or “in thing to do” to the next. They are
literally dying of thirst and hope that the “new drink” will satisfy them. It
never does. Earthly “drink” can never satisfy our desires like the living water
Jesus offers can.
we have tasted Jesus’ living water, nothing else will satisfy our thirst. The
living water provides cleansing and a spiritual life. It flows through true
worshippers who worship God and Jesus with all of their heart. In order to
drink the living water, we have to repent. That is why Jesus brought up the
woman’s past. She needed to see and admit that she messed up and needed God’s
help. We also need to admit that we are messed up and that we need God’s help. When
God looks into our souls and sees our dark side, our secrets, our guilt and ou
motivations, he loves us anyway. That love is the living water that renews us
and restores us. When God sees how we are dying inside, and when he tells us
everything we have ever done, he still gives us living water. The Holy Spirit
helps us to see our mistakes and failures.
woman was open to the truth that Christ taught. As a result, she came to faith
in Jesus. She reminds us who doubt or struggle with faith to stay in a
conversation with Christ. God’s grace drew her to Christ, and she became an
evangelist. Likewise, God’s grace draws us to Christ, and now we can be evangelists.
We, like the woman, are to listen to the Word of God and look for opportunities
to share it with others. We will never be alone, because Jesus’ living water
will stay with us and will be there when we need it.
also offered something meaningful to her, and it is the same thing he offers
us. He offered her the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would live in
her like it lives in us. God is not made of physical matter, so he can be
everywhere and with everyone all at the same time. Spiritual food is important
to our eternal life, just like physical food is important to our physical life.
Spiritual food was more important to Jesus than physical food. That is why he
dismissed the disciples’ concern that his behaviour with the woman was caused
by physical hunger.
other aspect of food and water that this reading talks about is the process of
growing food. Those of you who have grown vegetables or flowers know that it
takes time for a plant to grow from a seed. The same thing happens in the
spiritual realm. It takes time for a spiritual seed to mature once it is
planted in our souls. In addition, one person can plant the seed while another
person waters it and still another person reaps it. There are times when sowing
and reaping take place at the same time, as was the case with the woman at the
well and the people of her village.
spiritual harvest is now, and we are missing it. We can stay by Jesus’ side and
be part of powerful encounters by doing the following things:
1.Ask God every day
where he is at work around us.
2.Be open to the
Spirit if he asks us to go into an unlikely area.
harvest is now.
4.Press in a bit.
We need to get people alone, ask some questions and find out what God is doing
below the surface of their lives.
made himself known to the Samaritans as the Messiah. How ironic it was that he
made himself known as the Messiah to people who were seen as outsiders. By
doing so, he made them insiders in his kingdom. The insiders of society often
became outsiders in his kingdom. Sometimes God uses the most unlikely people to
do his work, while those who should have been at the forefront of God’s work
fail him. The heart of a worshipper is the most important thing to Jesus. He
hates pompous attention-getters and loves true believers. He seeks out
authentic worshippers, and when he asks them to do something, he gives them
greater things to do. Legitimate testimony glorifies Jesus rather than the person
making the testimony.
how should we share the Good News with people, especially people from different
backgrounds? Jesus shows us how. We must
put aside our own agendas and ask questions. We must not condemn them or
condone their sin. We must offer them the bright hope of a future that is God’s
gift. We must look beyond their sins, their outside appearance and their
cultural differences. We, like Jesus, must see everyone as someone God loves
and not as a person of a certain race, background or reputation. When we
approach God in spirit and truth, we touch his heart and move him in a special
way. In return, we are to reach out to others and spread our faith by reaching
out to one person at a time.
It might seem as if the task is hopeless, but
it's not.It might seem as if our
neighbors are hopeless, but they aren't.We don't have the responsibility to bring them into the church.We have only the responsibility to be godly
people in their midst.We have only the
responsibility to invite.We have only
the responsibility to plant the seed.God will send other people to water it, and others still to harvest. God
doesn't need us to succeed.God just
needs us to be faithful––to do our part. The Samaritan woman was faithful. She
did her part.She ran into town to tell
her neighbors about a Jew who might just be the Messiah
we are reluctant to do this. Why? It is because we are comfortable with our
existing lives. Sometimes we don’t want to take the simple actions we need to
change our lives or the lives of other people. Making small changes in our
lives or the lives of others can have big impacts, especially since we live in
an area that is spiritually dry and thirsty.
his article entitled “The Last Crusade”, Major V. Gilbert told of the early 20th
century battle for Palestine against the Turks. At one point Allied forces
outpaced the camel caravan that was carrying their water. There were wells in
the territory occupied by the enemy. Gilbert rote, “We fought that day as men
fight for their lives. If such were our thirst for God and for righteousness,
for his will in our life, a consuming, all-embracing, preoccupying desire, how
rich the fruit of the spirit would we be.” This is a good lesson for all of us