Reflections...

Meditations, Reflections, Bible Studies, and Sermons from Kowloon Union Church  

Well – being and being well

A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 23 March 2014 by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Exodus 17:1-7, Roman 5: 1-11 and John 4:5-42.


Opening prayer:

God of life, we thank you for the water to sustain our physical body and the word of truth that nourishes our soul.  May your word oh God guide us to walk in the way, the truth and life of Christ.

May the word of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, and bring to you honor and glory. Amen.   

Story
The gospel account on the dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well reminds me of a story about my mother when she was a little girl.

The story happened when she was three years old. One day she heard a baby living in same village crying. When she went to see her, she found her shivering in a chilly weather. She felt pity on this child.  Immediately she remembered that she had an old Mein Nap (a jacket with thick cotton lining) at home. In the old days, people used to wear Mein Nap to keep themselves warm in winter. Without any hesitation, she went back home and took that jacket for this baby. She put her arms through the sleeves and wore the jacket, not on her back, but on her front so that it was like a cape and she was flying around, being excited to share her jacket with the baby, not realizing that she was moving closer and closer to the well. Before the neighbor can warn her, she fell in! Luckily, the jacket floated on the water and acted like a safety ring, keeping my mother afloat until help arrived.

The story at the well from the bible leads me to link the story of my mother. My mother was like a well, giving to me the needed water to nourish my life. From the love she shared with our family throughout her life, and with that baby when she was only three years old, I see how she had lived her life like living water to bring to others happiness and hope.

Trip to KUC Organic Farm in Tai Po
Yesterday, a group of us from the church visited the Organic Farm in Tai Po. We had a great time helping out, clearing the weeds, sowing, planting seedlings, and fetching water from the stream to fill up the watering barrels. Some friends even waded into the stream to build a little dam to store up the water. It was a wonderful day out for all of us.

On our way home, I thought about the puddle of water that was dammed up and was stagnant and muddied, while in the rest of the stream which is still flowing, the water was clear and cool to the touch. The same water, but what a difference when it is stagnant in a pool and when it is free flowing.

The well as a symbol for spiritual life
Yesterday was the World Water Days. This is an international day held every year on 22 March, to celebrate fresh water. Water is very important and is essential for sustaining life. In fact, we are mostly water, around 50 to 70% of our bodies is made up of water. So we are all water babies! We can go without food for weeks, but we would die without water for just a few days.

We may think there is a lot of water about. Yes, you're right, in fact 70% of the earth's surface is covered with water. But unfortunately, most of the water is seawater and is too salty to drink. Only 2.5% of the earth's water is fresh water, but much of it is locked up as ice in the north and south poles. So in reality, only about 0.5% of the water in the world is actually available for us to use.

Here in HK, we are fortunate that we can turn on a tap and have instant access to fresh, clean water that we can drink! But in many developing countries, clean water is a rare commodity and the lack of clean water to drink is a major cause of diarrhea, which kills 4 to 6 million people every year. Indeed, it has been estimated that about 1 in 4 children under the age of five dies from diarrhea every year. 1 in 4 deaths just because they don't have clean water to drink! Can you imagine that?

In today's scripture reading, we heard how Jesus referred to living water as a symbol for an everlasting source of spiritual life. The trip to the organic farm reminds me that while Jesus and the spirit dwell in all of us, we should not just let the spirit stays inside of us, like the stagnant water in that stream, becoming muddied and lifeless. We should make sure that the living water continues to flow through us, allowing others to draw inspiration, and love, and support from us, so that the same spirit can continue to flow and work its magic from one life to another life, using each one of us as channels.

Jesus is the source of the living water who gives to us eternal life.

In the bible story, there was indication that the Samaritan woman had a strong desire to make a change. Maybe she was tired to come for such a long way to get water. Maybe she has been fed up with the isolation with other people. The fact that she came to the well to get water at noon is unusual in her time as most people would avoid the Mediterranean heat.  

This Samaritan woman was inspired after her conversation with Jesus. The courage  of Jesus to break boundaries, his prophetic power to know she has five husbands and his insight on worship: that one should not focus on the location and human tradition, rather, the key of worship is in spirit and in truth as God is Spirit; this insight has changed the course of her life. She started to share her testimony with her people the Samaritans. She broke her isolation and spoke up like a living water to bring life to others. Many of her people went to Jesus after they heard from her story. This Samaritan woman was a great witness to Jesus Christ. She opened up herself to receive the living water, her life is no longer the same.

We see how this woman had been changed after she received this living water from Jesus.

The living water flows in our life to help change the course of our life. Like Jesus and this Samaritan woman, we should not be afraid to challenge old traditions and norms that have segregated people and enslaved us.

We have entered into the Lent season and today is the third Sunday of Lent.

Lent is a season to offer Christians a chance to reflect on our faith. It is a time to remind us of the need to repent and refocus our lives in God.

To live a life like living water to bring eternal life is a key for us to reflect today.

Our mission

When we are committed to make our life flow like living water to bring life and hope, we should have the courage to challenge traditions and practices that create segregation and division. Jesus broke three boundaries – gender, race, and religions:

Firstly, Jesus broke the boundary of gender because men shouldn’t speak to women in public in his time. But he initiated the dialogue with the Samaritan woman.

Secondly, Jews shouldn’t have any contact with the Samaritans because they have been regarded as impure. Moreover, Samaritans have been enemies of the Jews. Jesus broke the boundary of race.

Thirdly, the Jews and the Samaritans have different understanding on their holy scriptures and worship practice. But Jesus dared to discuss with the Samaritan woman about worship in public.

Jesus has broken many barriers in order to bring life and freedom. Is there any barrier in our lives and in our world that blocks the flow of life and enslaves people who are not able to be free?

Apostle Paul shared with us a message in the Letter of Roman we heard this morning. We have received the gift of faith, hope and reconciliation from God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In return, as God’s children and Jesus’ disciples we are called to share this gift with others. 

The Samaritans had experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ and they affirmed that Jesus’ salvation is for the whole world.

The mission to bring reconciliation in all relationship has been given to the believers and the church.

As shared in 2 cor 5:17-18: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation…”  

Theologically, water is also a symbol of purification, a visible sign for our sins are cleansed. When we receive the living water given by Christ, we will be empowered to endure all difficulties with great hope and with faith we engage in the ministry of reconciliation. One of the reconciliations we need to take up in the world today is to restore the harmonious relationship between nature and human race as human beings have consumed too much and have bought a lot of destruction to them.

The World Water Day reminds us that fresh water is scarce and precious, we should do our best to protect it from pollution and consume it carefully without excess and waste.

We are human and have our limitations. There may have times we grumble and angry, and even lost our faith in God like the Israelites in the wilderness. But God is good. God is always loving and considerate to give what we need. The living water from the rock reminds that even when we are desperate and struggling at the brink of death, God is there to look after us.


The living water from God will strengthen our lives and renew our hope again and again. Dear sisters and brothers, let us drink this living water from Christ every day. By doing so, we will keep our well-being and we are able to make others being well. 

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, March 23, 2014



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