Archive for August, 2014

Living Water by Lauren Neal

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25, 2014 by yhcreligiouslife

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” ’

 —John 7:37-38

Sukkot, the Feast of Booths, alsliving watero known as the Feast of Tabernacles is a Jewish festival which lasts about a week and is meant to remind the people of the time they spent in the wilderness, after leaving Egypt.  This week’s passage from the Gospel of John specifies that it is the last day of this feast when Jesus cries out to a crowd: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

Right before Jesus says this, he encounters officers sent by the chief priests and Pharisees to arrest him, but his words in verses 37-38 change their mind.  Some of those in the crowd take his statement as evidence that he is a prophet and the anticipated Messiah, but not everyone is convinced.  However, the debate is enough to prevent the officers from following through with their orders to arrest him.  When the priests and Pharisees ask them why they failed to arrest Jesus, the officers reply that it is because they had never heard anyone speak as they heard Jesus speak. 

This incident is reminiscent of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4.  He tells her everything she had ever done.  Like the experience of the officers in chapter 7, the words that Jesus speaks are astounding.  The officers are convinced that no ordinary man could speak this way.  And like Jesus’ words in 7:37-38, in chapter 4, he promises the woman “living water.”

So what is this “living water”?  The Feast of Booths is a time for remembering the scarcity of the desert journey, but it is also a time when the people would remember that even in times of scarcity, God always provided for them.  Similarly, the Samaritan woman at the well must struggle on a daily basis to gather the water she needs to survive, she understands scarcity.  This is why when Jesus mentions living water that will cause her to never thirst again, it sounds like a pretty awesome deal.  No longer would she have to trek back and forth to the well every day.  However, the provision that Jesus is talking about both to her and to the crowd later during the Feast of Booths is not a gift of physical water.

The question then becomes what do these situations have in common that might give us some insight as to what exactly the “living water” is?  In both cases, Jesus’ words are convicting.  The woman is made aware of her sins, and the officers are convicted away from their assigned duties.  In both situations, the people involved encountered the unexpected when they encountered Jesus.  Just as no one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition, no one ever expects to be confronted with their sins, with their mistakes or misconceptions; and unfortunately, that is why it is often so hard for us to recognize when we have been wrong. 

The “Living Water” is the power that can only come from Jesus Christ and the power to recognize the hardest truth of all, the truth about ourselves.  The world tries to define us by what we wear, what we do, and a whole host of other things that are really only incidental, but only Jesus knows who we really are, and where our hearts truly lie.  When we believe in Jesus and have the living water that he provides, then too can we begin to see the world as it truly is: broken and fallen but still beautiful and striving for perfection.  The world is thirsty, and the water is scarce.  Let us pour out our abundant living water that comes from Jesus Christ.


Drink Deep from the Waters

Posted in Uncategorized on August 18, 2014 by yhcreligiouslife

Deer and waterFrom God sweeping over the deep waters of chaos at creation to Israel’s crossing the Red Sea, from Jesus’ life beginning in the waters of a womb to his offering a woman water to drink at a well, from Jesus feeding his disciples on a seashore after the resurrection to the waters of the River of Life flowing beside the nourishing trees in garden of the New Heaven and New Earth in the closing chapters of Revelation, water flows through the stories of the Christian faith, washing over us and reminding us of water’s essential contribution to life and the new life. 

Our iChapels are opportunities for us to reflect as a community on how faith and life and education intersect in sustaining and restorative and revealing ways.  This years’ reflections will focus specifically on the life-offering and faith-refreshing gift of water as an essential element of our spiritual and religious journeys as we explore, together, this year’s theme of “Drink Deep from the Waters.”  In addition to attending to the central role that water plays in the Christian tradition, we will, occasionally, reflect on those converging moments where the confluence of the Christian story and other traditions’ stories of faith flow together through their common use of water as fundamental to faith and a whole and holy life.

I am very much looking forward to our sharing in faith and conversation over the coming academic year.  I am more than delighted that you are back on campus or have joined us for the first time.  And, I awaiting with joyous anticipation the journey we are about to share, as we navigate the waters of life and the spirit this year.

To shape our initial ponderings, I offer the lyrics from the beautifully introspective hymn “As the Deer,” a hymn taken from Psalm 42: 

As the deer pants for the water,
So my soul longs after You.
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship You.

You alone are my strength, my shield,
To You alone may my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship You.

Have a wonderful start to your week, semester, and year.

I will see you along the way.