Wednesday of the 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany – John 4:1-14

Wednesday of the 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany – John 4:1-14 January 21, 2014

Living Water Tree planted byJohn 4:1-14

            Sometimes the most common things are the most special and holy.

Take water.  Water is one of the most common substances found on earth.  Chemically, it’s a very simply one as well, composed only of 1 oxygen and 2 hydrogen atoms.  It comprises 70% of the surface of the earth.

And yet it’s one of the most amazing substances God ever created.  We don’t see how special it is because it is so common, as is the air we breathe.

Because water is a polar molecule, it exhibits nearly miraculous properties.  On the one hand, it is called the universal solvent, because it dissolves more substances than any other compound, including strong acids.  And yet it not only dissolves things, it has amazing powers to stick to them.  It coheres to itself, and it adheres to many other substances.  Because of this, it manifests capillary action, by which water can climb up the sides of small tubes, which is important in the transport of water and minerals and food in the life of plants.  It has a high specific capacity, so that it changes temperature slowly, which is why the water in the ocean or a pool may be cooler or hotter than the land around it.  This has a mitigating effect on the world’s weather.  Water has a high surface tension, and so things can float on it.  It commonly exists in all 3 states of matter, solid, liquid, and gas, and the triple point of water is 0 degrees Celsius, 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or freezing.  The triple point of a compound is the point at which it is possible to change all of the substance to ice, water, or vapor by making arbitrarily small changes in pressure and temperature.  Finally (though there is undoubtedly more), when water freezes, it expands.  This is useful not only for exploding Coke bottle or cans but also because this means that the ice on top of lakes will float on the top, being less dense.  This, in turn, insulates the water, keeping it from freezing from the bottom up and killing the marine life found in it.

           Sometimes the most common things are the most special and holy.

It is this water that Jesus takes as a symbol of the life He offers us.

It was to obtain this earthly water and to sustain life that Jacob, 1800 years earlier, dug the well at which we now see Jesus sitting.  Jacob meant it for earthly purposes, but see how Jesus transforms it into heavenly water for holy purposes.

God takes the common things of our life and promises to make them special; the profane things, and make them holy.  He will take our nature, fallen and all, and transmute it into a new nature, by His grace.

When you’re thirsty, there is nothing better than water.  By this, we are to know that our spiritual thirst is slaked by Jesus, the Living Water.  When we drink this Living Water, we, who are composed of dirt and water, become alive again.  He takes our common, dying life, and makes it an everlasting, holy life.

I find it interesting that Jesus, knowing that she needs water from Him, asks the woman for a drink of water.  He could have gotten it Himself.

But this is sometimes the way God works in our lives.  He says, “Give me a drink,” and we refuse.  We refuse, because we want to get the drink of water for ourselves.  We want Evian, and settle for it (maybe you already know that it spells “Naïve” backwards), but He wants to give us Himself.  He offers us heaven, and we insist on earth.

It’s not that God needs the drink of water He offers us: we do.  This is just like prayer.  It’s not that God needs to know our needs, as if He wouldn’t know them without us speaking them.  It’s that God knows we need Him, and that our thirst is one of the chief means by which we will come to Him.  In prayer, God invites us into a conversation with Him, just as Jesus drew the women into conversation with Him.

This is the essence of prayer: conversation with God.  Conversing with God means that we must draw into His presence.  This is what we most need every day and every moment, and so God invites us in sometimes with peculiar requests of us.  How often do we ignore these enticements and invitations?!

            Sometimes the most common things are the most special and holy.

But the most common, by which I mean ubiquitous, thing of all is God, and He is also the most special and holy.  God is everywhere.  “If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Hades, behold, You are there” (Psalm 139:8).  God is all around us, by His Spirit and by His world, by His Son and by His Word, offering Himself to us 24/7/365/80.

You’ve seen all of the commercials about your thirst.  The Sprite commercial, “Obey Your Thirst,” had it right: they just had the wrong thirst quencher.

The next time you’re thirsty; the next time you see the miracle of water, washing your hands or dishes or clothes, cooling your drink or warming your face, filling your body or feeding your plants: remember the One who is the Living Water.

            Sometimes the most common things are the most special and holy.


When opening door: I pray thee, Lord, to open the door of my heart to receive thee within my heart. 

When washing clothes: I pray thee, Lord, to wash my heart, making me white as snow.

When sweeping floors: I pray thee, Lord, to sweep away my heart’s uncleanness, that my heart may always be pure.

When pouring oil: I pray thee, Lord, to give me wisdom like the wise virgins who always had oil in their vessels.

When posting a letter (you might want to update this to “When posting an e-mail”): I pray thee, Lord, to add to me faith upon faith, that I may always have communication with thee.

When lighting lamps (turning on a light): I pray thee, Lord, to make my deeds excellent like lamps before others, and more, to place they true light within my heart.

When watering flowers: I pray thee, Lord,, to send down spiritual rain into my heart, to germinate the good seed there.

When boiling water for tea (when making coffee): I pray thee, Lord, to send down spiritual fire to burn away the coldness of my heart and that I may always be hot-hearted in serving thee.  (Prayer of Chinese Christian women)

On building a wall: I pray thee, Lord,, to make my faith as firmly established as a house built upon a rock, so that neither rain, flood nor wind can ever destroy it.

On pruning a tree: I pray thee, Lord, to purge me and take away my selfishness and sinful thoughts, that I may bring forth more fruits of the Spirit.

On tending sheep: I pray thee, Lord, to protect me from evil and keep me from want, daily carrying me in thine arms like a lamb.

On winnowing grain: I pray thee, Lord, to winnow away the chaff from my heart and make it like the true wheat, fit to be gathered into thy barn.

On sowing seed: I pray thee, Lord, to sow the good seed of virtue in my heart, letting it grow by day and night, to bring forth a hundredfold.

On writing a book: I pray thee, Lord, by the precious blood of Jesus, to pay my debt of sin and write my name in heaven, making me free in body and soul.

On planing wood: I pray thee, Lord, to make me smooth and straight, fit to be a useful vessel, pleasing to the Lord.

On drawing water: I pray thee, Lord, to give living water to quench my thirst, and wash away the stains from my heart.   (Prayer of Chinese men – from The Oxford Book of Prayer)


Points for Meditation:

1.  What are some of the common ways that God comes to you each day?  What might you do to become more aware of His presence through them each day?

2.  Consider more actively praying throughout the day with small prayers that fill up the “dead” time during the day. 

3.  Make up some daily prayers such as the Chinese ones listed above. 

Resolution:  I resolve to spend more time today praying to God in small ways throughout the day.  

© 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson

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