July 31, 2022 – Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
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Call to worship
Come, all who are thirsty. Taste the living water. Refresh body and soul. Surely God is in this place and calls us to worship in spirit and in truth. Come, all who are thirsty.
“Come let us sing to the Lord our song” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 412). Words (1976) by American musician and composer Jim Strathdee (1941–). Music (1976; tune “Forney”) composed by Jim and arranged by his wife Jean Strathdee. No copyright information provided as the hymn was not recorded or streamed.
You can enjoy this version of the hymn on YouTube:
Prayers of Approach and Confession and Lord’s Prayer
O God we have come with thirsty hearts, praying that your Word will satisfy us. We come with aching hearts, praying for good news to comfort us. We come with repenting hearts, praying for forgiveness and new life. Quench our thirst, satisfy our longings, forgive us our sins. May we be refreshed and restored in you; and teach us where to find the bucket and how to carry it so that we might draw that water for those who most need it. We pray in the name of the one who brings the living water, even Jesus Christ, and continue to pray as he taught, saying
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever.
Declaration of Pardon
Jesus says: “Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of living water.” Thanks be to God.
The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)
He slips into the back pew. He started to come to worship when everything else started falling apart. His wife left him, took the kids, remarried. There are rumours that he will be laid off. He’s surplus to the company. He slips into the church late, after the greeting so he will not have to shake hands. He sits at the back and leaves without speaking to anyone. He has trouble with depression, and relationships. He feels like a nobody, worthless, without a friend in the world. He thinks he has more problems than anyone he knows.
She goes to the well about the sixth hour, noon hour, in the heat of the day. Most women go to the well at daybreak while it is still cool, and as they draw the water they visit with each other. This woman goes to the well at noon. Like the man who arrives at worship late, she doesn’t want to socialize. She is isolated, alone. She doesn’t even have a name. She is a nobody.
And Jesus, a Jew speaks to her, a nobody Samaritan woman. There is no love lost between Jews and Samaritans. To a Jew, Samaritans are dirty, a mixed breed. Samaritans intermarried with foreigners. To the Samaritans, Jews are the enemy. When the Jews were in exile in Babylon, the Samaritans were all established in the northern kingdom, set up a temple on Mt. Gerizim, and then the Jews came back and destroyed that temple. There is no love lost between Jews and Samaritans.
So this is astounding. Jesus, a man and a Jew, speaks to her, a stranger, a Samaritan and a woman. Not only does he speak to her, he asks her for something. It is noon, and it is hot, he asks her for a drink of water — Scandal upon scandal he will use the same utensils. He doesn’t have a bucket so will have to draw from hers, presumably use her bucket.
He asks her for something. And maybe, just maybe, this isolated woman starts to feel useful. She can be helpful, she has worth. Perhaps the beginning of recognizing Jesus can happen when we give a cup of cold water to someone in need. He asks the woman to give him a drink. He gives her the chance to recognize the face of Christ in a stranger. Jesus is thirsty at the well, and we are the ones with the bucket. The deeper metaphorical conversation that follows makes no sense until we really take this in. Can a little thing like a cup of cool water, offered in hospitality be the beginning of a salvation journey? Our story indicates Yes it can; and we will never know until we meet the stranger, and tend to the human need first.
Then we get the metaphorical conversation. She is talking about physical thirst and H2O and Jesus is talking about spiritual thirst and living water, the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit. It reminds me of the story of the comedienne crossing the border into Canada. When asked her citizenship she replies “American”. When asked what business she had in Canada, she said “I’m a comedienne” and the customs officer, hearing “Canadian” said “I thought you were an American”, and she, thinking he had just insulted Americans by saying they couldn’t be funny, responded with “There are lots of funny Americans, like Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett.” And the customs officer collapses in total confusion.
Well, Jesus gives up on that line of conversation, and decides to bring the conversation more down to earth and talk with the woman about her situation in life. Now because this woman has had five husbands, and now lives with a man who is not her husband, many people jump on the morality bandwagon and decide this woman is a pretty loose living trollop. But, you know, think about the place of women back then, think about the divorce laws. Women didn’t divorce men, men divorced them, so she could have been rejected by five husbands. You could get a divorce just by burning the dinner. Perhaps she was abused by them before they dumped her. Or she could have been widowed. Widows had no means of looking after themselves, had to marry again. That was their social security. And the rules said they had to marry their husband’s brother, their closest male in law. Sometimes the last brother was not able to marry her, but he might still take her into his household to look after her. Maybe he was 20 years younger than her.
Just sayin’, this could have been her situation. We shouldn’t jump to conclusions. In any case her life is a wreck, full of emotional if not physical scars. No wonder she doesn’t want to go to the well when the other women are there. And in any case, when Jesus tells her all about herself, she sees that he is a prophet.
And she changes the conversation to one about worship, and the differences between the Samaritans who held that Mount Gerizim in Samaria was a holy place, where they had built a temple and the Jews had destroyed it, and Jews who held that Jerusalem, where the Jewish temple was, was the holy place.
Jesus makes a few comments about God being spirit and therefore there is no set place for worship, and the woman decides the matter is too important for people like Jesus and herself to work out. “The Messiah will explain it all to us.” she says. Which gives Jesus the perfect lead in: “I who speak to you am he.”
All of this happens at a well that the woman visits every day. It is like having the biggest moment of your life in a convenience store.
And the woman leaves her valuable bucket and runs to the village with the news: “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done And the sentence has an unfinished nature. Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done… and cares about me! Those four words aren’t recorded, but they are implicit in her action, in the joy with which she runs.
Everything she ever did is a long list and is always before her in her sense of isolation. Everything she ever did is common knowledge in the judgemental expressions of her neighbours. And everything she ever did does not cut her off from the love of Jesus. This is good news for anyone who has ever felt the humiliation of stigmatization or the pain of being a nobody, because Jesus does not turn away from this woman. On the contrary, he engages her in conversation, he takes her seriously. This woman, the man who slips into the back pew their community, and their welfare matter to Jesus, whether nobodies or not.
Everything we ever did is a long list. We did something years ago that we have never been able to forget. We were hurt by someone or we hurt someone in an inexcusable way. We have scars that are hard to miss and scars so deep we think we are the only ones who know about them.
The Samaritan woman runs home to her neighbours, the ones who think they know her, the ones she hides from, the ones she avoids, and invites them to come and see. She sounds like there is a fountain of water springing up inside her.
She runs home so fast she forgets her water jar and leaves it at the well. We have heavy jars that we lug, day after day in the hot sun, hoping to find a few drops of water in the well. Our jars are the “should haves”, “ought to’s,” and “never wills” of our lives. They are the times we let the people we love down, the times we let ourselves down, and the times we let God down. They are the parts we keep hidden, our insecurities, our apathy, and our fear.
The God who knows us best says: “All that you are, even the secret parts you do not think anyone knows about, even the parched parts, even the broken parts, all that you are is refreshed in my living water, and is made whole in my grace. No matter what has been done to you, no matter what you have done, no matter what will be done to you, or what you will do, you are invited to know and love me, and to be known and loved by me.”
The waters of God’s grace are here for anyone who is thirsty.
We remind everyone that we must continue to pay our bills; in the absence of being present at Sunday worship, you may sign up for pre-authorized remittance (PAR), donate online, or drop off your offering envelope in the mailbox at the church. Do not leave a cash donation unattended in the mailbox; instead, please call the office (416.261.4037) to ensure someone will be there to receive it. The building will be checked daily for mail and phone messages. If you are not comfortable leaving an envelope, you are welcome to contact the office (once again, 416.261.4037) and someone will pick up your offering.
Dedication of our Gifts
Prayer of dedication
Gracious, giving God, accept our offerings of time, of talent and treasure. Use these gifts for the furtherance of your work. AMEN.
Prayers of people
Holy God, whose spirit moved over the waters at the dawn of creation, hear our prayers for all who thirst today. We pray for those who are spiritually thirsty, who long to know your presence but don’t know where to find you. We pray for those who are alone and without hope, those who long to feel needed and loved, those who are searching for meaning and purpose. River of God, pour down your waters and heal your people.
We pray for all who are physically thirsty, who don’t have enough water to drink, or feed their animals, whose fields are parched, whose crops have withered, those who have to walk long distances to find enough water to survive, or who have to be content with water that is unclean. We pray for those whose homes and communities are torn apart because of drought or famine. River of God, pour down your waters and heal your people.
We pray for those who are thirsty for justice, who long for an equal sharing of resources among people and nations; those who put their lives at risk to protect streams and rivers and oceans; those who are working to find clean water, and make it available to those who need it. River of God, pour down your waters, and heal your people.
God, we ask that you open our hearts to the needs of all who thirst. Give us courage to work together for justice, to stand alongside those who are thirsty, so that all people, everywhere, may live without want or fear, and may discover the abundant life you promise to each one. In the name of Jesus Christ, the source of living water, we pray. AMEN.
“One more step along the road” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 641). Words and music (1971; tune “Southcote”) by English poet and songwriter Sydney Carter (1915–2004). No copyright information provided as the hymn was not recorded or streamed.
You can enjoy this version of the hymn on YouTube:
- Video with on-screen words, with a few, minor differences from those in the hymnbook
- This video created by the Chet Valley Churches, in south Norfolk, England.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15: 13)
- Go Now in Peace”. Words by American educator, lyricist and composer Don Besig (1936–) and American lyricist Nancy Price (1958–). Music by Don Besig. Words and music copyright © 1988 Harold Flammer Music, a division of Shawnee Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
- Performed by Rachelle Risling (keyboard) and the GCPC Senior Choir. Audio and video production by Rachelle Risling.
- Audio and video recording copyright © 2021 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church.
Copyright © 2022 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church
Last updated 2022-07-31 – Added hymns with YouTube versions; added audio version of Rev H. Smith’s Benediction.