Sunday, August 25, 2019 “Drinking from the Living Water”

The message for Sunday, August 25, 2019, “Drinking from the Living Waters” by Pastor Erik Goehner, heard during the 8:00, 9:30 and 11:00AM Worship service.


John 4:7-14 &  Revelation 21:1-4, 22-24

August 25, 2019

There once were some travelers who had tried to take a short cut on an isolated road across a barren stretch of desert.  After having driven many miles, their car overheated and broke down.  Unable to fix it, they decided to try to walk to the nearest town.  According to the map, it seemed quicker to cut across the desert then go back down the road.  The travelers became hotter and hotter as the day wore on. The sun was beating down on them and they had run out of water.  Tired and weary they unexpectedly came upon an old hand pump.

Near the pump was a note:

Dear Friend,

This pump is all right as of June 1932. I put a new washer in it and it should last for many years. But the washer dries out and the pump has to be primed. So under the white rock to the north I’ve buried a bottle of  water, out of the sun with a cork in it. There’s enough water in the bottle to prime the pump, but not if you take a drink first. Pour about one-fourth of the water and let it soak the leather washer. Then pour in the rest medium fast and pump like crazy. You’ll get water. This well has never run dry. Trust me. Then, when you’ve pumped all the water you need, fill the bottle and put it back where you found it for the next person who travels this path.  Signed,   “Desert Pete.”

What do you think the travelers should do? What would you do if you were one of them?  Would you take the risk and pour the water into the pump, trusting you would get more? Or, would you take the sure thing and drink the bottle, knowing that it would only be a small amount and there would be no more for other travelers, but at least you and your friends would have a little something?  The answer you gave might have to do with whether or not there was living water inside you.

Jesus meets a woman by a well today in our reading from the Gospel of John.  As they begin to have a conversation by the ancient well of their ancestor Jacob, you might say that Jesus gives the woman an option similar to that of Desert Pete.  He tells her that everyone who drinks of the well water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that he will give them will never be thirsty.  Instead, the water that he will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.  What will the woman do? Will she do the familiar thing—drawing her water quickly from the well and avoid this odd sounding stranger, or will she take the risk and hang with this Jesus a little while longer to try and see what this living water is all about?

The woman is intrigued by the words she is hearing and decides to stay a little longer.  She perceives that Jesus is some kind of prophet, some kind of holy man of God and yet he wants to have a conversation with her.

The woman has come out to the well in the heat of the middle of the day to avoid the crowds that usually gather in the morning and evening when it is cooler, but Jesus seems to hold her attention and she isn’t afraid to stay.  He seems to listen to her and seems to see who she really is.  It is as if he knows who she really is.  The water of the well has brought them together, but it is the living water of the Holy Spirit which is bringing them into a deeper relationship.

This summer our theme in worship has been “Come to Water’” as we have looked at Rivers and Lakes in the Bible.  We also went beyond the Bible, however, as you were invited to share your own water stories in the pictures and photos you brought to display in our sanctuary.  I hope that most of you have had a chance to walk around a little between services and enjoy these photos and the captions that accompany them.  There are pictures of calm and beauty up here from favorite vacations with sunsets and reflections.  There are pictures of adventure and motion with whitewater rafting and sailboats once owned.  There are pictures of grief and comfort with ashes of loved ones scattered across a lake or along the stream that once was a spiritual place for the loved one, now gone.  Places of family reunions, memories of young children playing near the shore, images of glaciers now fading, and a relative finding comfort each day by the water as she waited for her husband to come home from the war.

Our theme brought these pictures together, but it was the Spirit which moved you to share these special places and these special stories with each other.  Through the sharing comes greater knowing which then moves us into deeper relationship.

Back in High School, when I was first learning about backpacking into wilderness areas something that we learned was that when you want to find water to filter in order to re-fill your water bottle, it is better to find a place where the water is moving.  Water that is stagnant is more likely to have bacteria or other contaminants that might make you sick and could gum up your filtration device causing it to be more difficult to get clean.  If the water is moving, however, it passes over rocks and sand which are natural filters and also gets rid of some of the dirt and grime that could make it harder to purify.

When Jesus talks about living water with the Samaritan woman, he is seeking to move her.  He wants to move her with the good news that he is the Messiah their people have been waiting for.  He wants to move her with the message that God’s presence is with her in her loneliness and despair.  Jesus wants to move her with living water that will overflow from her heart.

And overflow it does.  The Scripture says that the woman left her water jar and went back into the town and said to the people, “Come meet a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this man be the Christ?”  The woman has experienced living water with Jesus and wants to share it with whoever will listen.

Someone in our day and age who was moved spiritually to share living water in a literal sense is a man named Scott Harrison.  Scott moved to New York City at 18. Initially, he rebelled against his upbringing and moved there to become rich and famous in a rock band! His band played venues around the city but soon broke up. But not long after, Scott discovered nightclub promotion as a profession: he loved the idea of getting paid to drink alcohol as a profession. All you needed to do was to get the right people inside the right clubs, and you could make a lot of money.

Over the next 10 years, Scott worked at 40 different nightclubs. He and his business partner would get the beautiful and the rich to come into the clubs, and then take as much money as possible. Their unique differentiator was that they would try to make their parties interesting by coming up with themes or stories for them.

But at 28, Scott came to the realization he had become the worst person he knew. After a decade of indulging his darkest vices as a nightclub promoter, Scott declared spiritual, moral, and emotional bankruptcy. He was telling the wrong story and if he continued down this path it wouldn’t be good, and he would have nothing to show for his life aside from getting millions of people wasted. Scott wondered if he could start again and create a life that would be the exact opposite of what he had been doing.

He began applying to humanitarian missions and organizations he knew of, despite only having experience as a nightclub promoter. Only one organization would take him and there was a condition: Scott had to give them $500.00 a month to live in post-war Liberia as a photojournalist on a humanitarian mission. Scott agreed and signed on with Mercy Ships.

Soon all of his partygoers on his email list went from receiving event invites to seeing photos of kids drinking from swamps and reading stories of children dying from diarrhea. He was surprised at how interested these people were, they were moved by the stories and images and the work the doctors were doing for others.

It was a lightbulb moment for him, and he saw the potential storytelling has to impact everyone, whether you’re pitching a party or moving people towards greater compassion and generosity.  As Scott learned more about the water crisis that caused many of the diseases that brought people to the hospital ship where he was volunteering, he was moved to use his gifts to address this basic issue which had such a hugely negative impact on so many people.  He was encouraged by the people he was working with to pursue this direction—to go to the source of the problem by providing clean drinking water.

Upon returning to New York City, Scott turned his full attention to the global water crisis and the (then) 1.1 billion people living without access to clean water. He established a small core team in a tiny Manhattan apartment and created charity: water. The organization set out on a big mission, to bring clean water to every person living without it, and an even bigger vision, to reinvent charity with an innovative 100% model and radical transparency, proving every single water project funded, even going so far as to provide GPS coordinates for the location to every well or project that had been completed so anyone could go and actually see if the project was done or not.

Twelve years later, with the help of more than 1 million supporters worldwide, charity: water has raised more than $388 million and funded over 38,000 water projects in 27 countries. When completed, those projects will provide over 9.6 million people with clean, safe drinking water.  You can read more about Scott’s story at charity: or in his new book, “Thirst.”

I would say that Scott Harrison is someone who was like the Samaritan woman.  When he came to that point in his life where he found himself in a moral and spiritual desert and he was confronted by that symbolic old pump with the note from Desert Pete, he decided he had enough of just looking out for himself and taking the sure thing.  He decided he would not just drink the bottle of water, instead he would take a risk, he would take a step of faith and try priming pump.  He was looking for something more to fill his spiritual thirst.  He was looking for living water that could fill him with an overflowing spirit of generosity which would affect the lives of others.  As a result, many people in need have been blessed with clean water and many people with resources have been inspired to give in new ways.  All of which brought him new fulfillment as well.

As people seeking to follow the way of Christ we are called to prime the pump.  We are called to look beyond just the immediate need for ourselves, to taking the leap of faith for something greater.  When we are able to trust in the living water from God’s love in Jesus Christ, we find that there is more than enough to go around and the Spirit of that living water overflows in abundance.

-Pastor Erik Goehner