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.
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.
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.
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
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
using each one of us as channels.
Jesus is the source of the living water who
gives to us eternal life.
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
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.
how this woman had been changed after she received this living water from
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
and enslaved us.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.