I had a sermon preparation free week this week. And this is probably as well given that the week turned out to be quite busy. I enjoyed my husband’s sermon (twice) and will not try to replicate it here. He opened by telling them of a naughty school boy who met with a patient and accepting vicar, and then was Confirmed and given a second chance at school. I hope that people were encouraged to know that nobody is beyond God’s reach and that we can all be like that vicar and introduce people to Jesus, who knows us and still loves us and wants us to come to know him.
I expect that different people in the congregations took away different things from the sermon. But the congregation at one church will all have seen a photo of the actual well that Jesus met the Samaritan woman at. We visited it during our pilgrimage two years ago this month. It felt quite special knowing that I was standing at the same place as Jesus had stood. Except we were a bit higher up. Over the years the ground level would have risen due to the various layers of deposits etc. But it is the same well. At some point in the past a church was built around it. I remember thinking, ‘wow – I am standing where Jesus stood’. It felt different from simply being in the same town as he had been etc. Various places in the Holy Land claim to be where this or that happened in the bible and you have to take it with a pinch of salt. “It had to happen somewhere, so this place is as good as any to remember it” sort of thinking. But not the well. We also visited a 1st century synagogue and that was another ‘wow’ moment as I stood in the same room where Jesus would have been.
One thing I remember from the sermon was the fact that John doesn’t waste words in his gospel. So because he mentions the well then that is important. Isaiah prophesied that one would come from whom living water would flow. Jesus is the source of living water and we need to regularly come to him to drink. He invites us to come to him, as we sing in that old hymn:
I don’t know if ironic is the right word, but it was strange that this was the communion hymn and only I had been able to drink the wine as, due to Corona virus precautions, the chalice was not permitted to be shared. I suggested to the congregation that they still drank, in their imaginations, and assured them of the Church of England teaching that to receive either the bread or the wine is to receive Christ in all his fullness. I also informed them, in case they hadn’t made the connections, that this is another way of saying be filled with the Holy Spirit.
My prayer for us all as we face the uncertainties of the world is that we remember Jesus and turn to him, the source of life, to sustain us and keep us calm.