July 18, 2024

Sermon: The Woman at the Well (Janet Hudson) back

Perhaps it is because I come from a land where water is scarce and drought a regular occurrence or perhaps it is because I was born on the last day of Aquarius and the day before Pisces, but water fascinates me.

I love it that we have our very own spring here at Dayspring. It was the first spring I had ever seen. I am very moved by its smallness and its power as it forces its way to the surface and trickles down first under the wee stone bridge, then it feeds Alice’s Pond, goes on to the Lake of the Saints and then, I presume, it works its way to the mighty Potomac River, the Chesapeake Bay and the massive Atlantic Ocean.

I love watching water flowing on the ground after it has rained. I enjoy seeing how it pools and then makes its way through the places of least obstruction to continue its flow. I enjoy helping it break through wee banks that obstruct it so it can continue to stream downhill. I love playing with water – last evening, sitting beside DayspringCreek, I made boats of sticks and leaves and watched them skim over the rapids. And I enjoy playing in water.

This passage in John’s Gospel is one of my very favorites. It was the Wellspring Mission Group’s theme as well. There are many facets and John asked you to fix on one as he readit for us. Hold on to your thought. We will come back to it shortly.

Martin Smith in his Lenten book, “A Season for the Spirit” tells of a time when he was in his final months of school. He was fascinated with the local history of his part of Britain. He spent his leisure hours exploring local historical sites.

One of the places that drew him was a supposed well, a holyspring of therapeutic water where pilgrims of the Middle Ages would come to find healing for various eye complaints.

The spring had fallen into disuse until an expedition of Edwardians came looking for it.(The Edwardian era in the United Kingdom is the period covering the reign of King Edward VII between 1901 and 1910. King Edward was the leader of a fashionable elite.) This Edwardian expedition never found it. All trace of it had disappeared and their journey was a failure. One day Martin strapped a spade to his bicycle and set out to see if he could locate the missing spring.

For hours he probed in fields where tradition had located it. Finally he realized that the cows standing in a stinking mud patch might be guarding the secret. So he prodded the cows away with his spade and he began to dig inthe smelly dung. After about 20 minutes of digging his spade grated against a stone and soon he had uncovered a carved platform from which protruded a wooden pipe. Pure water poured out in a steady flow. He had found the well, the place of pilgrimageand healing.

As you can imagine there was, a deep sense of satisfaction and wonder at his discovery which was greatly enhanced as he read from John chapter 4:14 “The water that I give will become in them a wellspring of water gushing up to eternal life.”

And from John 7:37 ff: On the last day of the festival while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Letanyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture says, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water. Now he said this about the Spirit which believers in him were to receive.’

Smith says, “I know enough Greek to know that the word translated ‘heart’ literally means guts or viscera. The oldtranslation ‘belly’ conveys the earthiness of the original passage. The home of the Spirit is not in the intellect, the realm of concepts and ideas,not in the refined interior sanctum of spirituality, but in the guts, the deep core where our passions have their spring, the place of




                                      and desire.

Those fastidious Edwardian ladies and gentlemen had failed to find the spring because they had hurried past the stinking mud patch, the huddled beasts and swarming flies.”

Smith continues, “I realized that we pass over the place ofthe Spirit’s indwelling, that unpromising and murky place of our own guts, in just the same way, and we look in vain for the Spirit in the cleaner world of thought and piety.

You know the joke about the man who was seen searching for something right under a street light. ‘Did you lose something here?’ he is asked. No, its over there,’ he replies, pointing to a dark corner some distance away, but this is where light is better.'

This is the story of the spiritual quest of so many people.We tend to look for God in the wrong place.

The Holy Spirit is to be found in the core of our own humanity.

One of the wonderful things about his discovery of the spring was the sense that it had been there, flowing, all the time, for centuries. It just needed to be uncovered.”

Finding the Spirit of God in our lives is not a matter of looking for something we have never had. It is a matter of uncovering, through faith, a Presence in the depths of our being that has been there all along, and that has been at work in

our actions,

        our sufferings,

                our fears and

                         our desires.

We actively continue to uncover the Wellspring within us aswe observe holy times like Lent and Easter, as we have our daily devotional times and as we worship and pray together. Jesus said, “The water that I will give will be a wellspring of water gushing up to eternal life.”