Saturday, February 23, 2008

Drinking the Spirit

Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Fr. Tim Fountain
Sermon for Lent 3, 2008

Drinking the Spirit

Water is a powerful symbol
We are made of it – without it we die
It refreshes us – without it we are distracted by thirst

Our lessons today present the Holy Spirit as our "living water"

The Holy Spirit fills our reborn life
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 water gushing up to eternal life" (John 4:5-42). Just as our physical self is made of water, those who receive the Holy Spirit are reborn with a supernatural life source within. (Remember last week's sermon: We all have a natural birth, and Jesus calls us to a rebirth that is spiritual).
We believe that the Holy Spirit – "the spring of living water" – is placed within us in our Baptism, and flows when we live as part of Christ’s body, the church. I Corinthians 12:13 "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink."

The Holy Spirit is our constant refreshment in all of life’s discomforts and distractions
The Apostle Paul says, "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us." (Romans 5:1-11)
Because we have the Spirit, we can come through sufferings into endurance, character and hope.
We can contend against discouragement because the Spirit constantly reminds us how much God loves us. Paul says that this love is so great that Christ died for us even though we were "weak, sinners and enemies of God." God’s love is much greater than our worst stuff.

So, what keeps us from "drinking the Spirit"?
"Hard hearts" (Psalm 95:8, a comment about our lesson from Exodus 17:1-7) "Meribah and Massah" mean "quarreling and testing." A bad attitude that is overly critical of the church and arrogant toward God will leave us spiritually thirsty and unsatisfied. The people leapt to criticism of Moses and questioned God’s presence, even though they had been set free by God’s miracles done through Moses in Egypt. We all have times when we question the church, or when our faith in God is challenged. But we have to be careful because if we stay with those negative approaches, we will "wander in the wilderness" and "not enter into God’s rest." A stony heart will dam up the well of living water.
Cold hearts: Jan. 28, 2005 Release from the University of New Hampshire. "DURHAM, N.H. -- ‘People just don’t feel as thirsty when the weather is cold,’ says Robert Kenefick, UNH associate professor of kinesiology. ‘When they don’t feel thirsty, they don’t drink as much, and this can cause dehydration.’"
If we are cold enough, we can come to believe that we don’t need a drink, and dry up. Spiritually, we can tell ourselves that occasional religious rituals or sentiments are enough. But Jesus says that blessing is found by those who "hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matthew 5:6). We need to keep ourselves hot and thirsty by regular prayer, Bible study, worship, Christian fellowship and acts of Christian service.

What can help us "drink the Spirit"? The ACTS prayer model (used at our Men’s Prayer Groups)
. Psalm 95:1, used always at Morning Prayer, "Come, let us sing to the LORD…" Jesus says the well of living water will "gush up".
Confession. The Samaritan woman at the well was honest about her "serial monogamy" and received Jesus’ word to her. He gave her the living water.
Thanksgiving. "…we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." (Romans 5) Paul experienced the "pouring" of the Spirit through thankfulness for God’s saving help.
Supplication (asking). "The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty…’" Jesus tells us to "Ask, seek and knock" (Luke 11), and promises that the Father will always give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.

Let us pray.
Father, let us drink the Holy Spirit. Pour into our hearts the assurance of your love, shown to us by Jesus on the cross. By the Spirit’s guidance and inspiration, let us confess our ungodly ways, ask for your help in our needs, and give you thanks and praise now and through eternity. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen


Alice C. Linsley said...

I had never thought of that... when I'm cold I can easily get dehydrated. Powerful spiritual image. May God spare us from cold hearts and refresh us by HIS Spirit.

Anonymous said...


I LOVE the picture of the falls for which Sioux Falls is named. And it brought to mind the famous passage from John 7 about the Spirit: "If anyone thirsts, let them come to me and drink. Those who believe in me, as the Scripture says, out of their innermost being will flow (not trickles, nor babbling brooks, but) RIVERS of living water" (John 7:37). Amen. So be it.

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