Posts tagged ‘Reala 100’

March 27, 2011

Living Water

Rushing Wave

Sermon for Today, (Lent 3, Year A)
Text John 4:5-42 Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

Whenever we hear the name ‘Samaritan’ today, we think of “The Samaritans”, that wonderful organisation that has helped countless numbers of people simply by being a listening ear on the other end of the telephone line. It wasn’t always that way though, for the Jews living in the first century, Samaritans were outcasts; they had their own temple separate from the one in Jerusalem and they had their own peculiar style of worship. The Jews hated the Samaritans and this feeling was mutual.

I don’t know what parallels we might draw today from this, I suppose wherever you go in the world you will find equivalents; communities that will not speak to each other, the enmity often going so far back in history that no one can really remember when it all started. Each of us probably have our own Samaritans and (believe it or not) we are most likely Samaritans to other groups who think differently from us…

Into this racial, ethnic and moral mess comes Jesus, let’s see how He deals with it. Jesus and the disciples were travelling from Judea in the south to Galilee in the north and the most direct route was through Samaria (though many Jews took the longer route in order to avoid coming into contact with any Samaritans). Jesus comes to a town called ‘Sycar’, where the famous ‘Jacob’s well’ was (and still is). It is midday and Jesus is tired from the journey, the disciples had gone to buy food and so the Lord is on his own as he goes over to the well to sit down. A woman comes over to draw some water and the Lord asks if he may have a drink.

The woman is surprised by this, (remember, Jews and Samaritans were not on speaking terms), and so she says:

‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (v.9)

But if she is surprised that this Jewish rabbi is even speaking to her, that’s nothing compared to what happens next.

Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ (v.10)

Now it all starts to get a bit strange, what does Jesus mean? The woman asks Jesus how he is able to get water without a bucket, especially as it is a very deep well. ‘Living water’ can be translated running or flowing water which would have been a lot fresher and nicer to drink than the still, stagnant water deep below in the well. But Jesus means more than this, as we shall see. He says to her:

‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but 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.’ (v.13b, 14)

Clearly He is no longer talking about ordinary water, He is actually talking about the Holy Spirit. If we drink water it satisfies our thirst for a time and then we will be thirsty again. In life we try to satisfy the spiritual thirst we all have with the things of this world and wonder why we can never get enough of the things of this world, we are never satisfied and always want more. In Jesus though we have the opportunity to drink the living water that gushes up to eternal life and if we do so will never be spiritually thirsty again.

It’s a big concept to grasp, so we can have a bit of sympathy with the Samaritan woman, as she doesn’t yet get what Jesus is talking about by the fact that she replies by saying:

‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’

The woman is intrigued by what Jesus is saying and wants to find out more and she is about to learn something of vital importance. When we invite Jesus into our lives He is more than glad to come, but He will start to clean up the mess he finds once he does come. This is true for all of us and so we are not in any position to look down upon this woman or anyone else for that matter ‘for all have sinned and fall short if the glory of God’. For this woman it was her married life or rather unmarried life that needed sorting out. So the Lord says to her:

‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. (v.16b-19)

Jesus, as always sees to the heart of the problem, this woman’s life has been one emotional upheaval after another. We don’t know how much of all this was her fault, but the result was that her life was in a mess and it must have been strangely comforting for her to know that Jesus knew. But perhaps it was not that comforting as she tries to change the subject by talking about the differences between Jews and Samaritans. We of course all do this (not talk about the differences between Jews and Samaritans but rather try to change the subject when it gets a bit close). How many times talking to our spouse or good friend have they gently challenged us on some aspect of our behaviour only for us to change the subject when it gets a bit uncomfortable? And we even do it to God – we are reading a Bible passage that deeply challenges us or we sense the Holy Spirit confronting us about something and all of a sudden we decide we want a cup of tea or lunch, in fact anything to avoid being confronted about our sin!

But of course, in trying to steer Jesus away from His deep insight into her life, she only ends up drawing Him closer, she says:

‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’

Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’ (v.26)

And so there we have it, Jesus reveals who He is to a woman at a well in Samaria. Fairly ordinary we might think, but in case we haven’t already realised just how extraordinary this is yet, the return of the disciples gives us another hint. We are told that they are astonished that he is talking with a woman. It was just not the custom for men to talk to women they did not know and even more so a Samaritan woman. Think also about this, she had come to draw water from the well in the middle and hottest part of the day. All the other women of the town would have come to draw water in the cooler parts of the day, the early morning and evening. This woman though was an outcast, she either was not allowed to go to the well when the others did or she simply could not stand the gossip and the looks she got from the others. This woman was disadvantaged in many ways, some through her own making and some by accident of birth. But that didn’t matter to Jesus, He met with her and her life was never the same again.

Would we not love to meet with Jesus in this way? Would we not just love to sit down with Him and have a conversation, even though we know that it might be a bit uncomfortable because to drink the living water, we have to let Him get rid of all the stagnant and stale water first?

Well (if you’ll excuse the pun), the good news is this. You, me, anyone can sit down with Jesus any time. We can talk to Him and we can allow Him to come into our hearts and lives and fill us with His Living Water that gushes up to eternal life. We can allow Him to change us, to wash us, to cleanse us from the inside out. There is no need for us to be an outcast with God, He wants us to become part of His family, He wants to be our Father and for us to be His child. No matter who you are, even if your lifestyle is as bad or worse than the Samaritan woman in today’s reading it does not stop Jesus, He comes to us regardless of who we are and of what we’ve done and He wants you to sit down with Him and He offers you a drink, Living Water. Will you take it?

(Some ideas and concepts explored here were found in Tom Wright’s magnificent book “John for Everyone”, SPCK, 2002)

October 3, 2010

Encouragement for the journey


(Photo from the Sheep’s Head walk for Christian Aid last month)

A couple of people actually read last weeks effort, so for anyone that may be interested, here is this mornings sermon.

Text:  2 Timothy 1:1-14

Have you ever watched or taken part in a long distance endurance test, you know something like a sponsored walk from Malin Head to Mizen Head, a cross-channel swim, the Cork, Dublin or London Marathon, or crossing the Himalayas on a pogo stick!?  One of the things that they all have in common (apart from making the participants very tired) is that they all have support teams.  There will be a crew of people backing up the walkers, providing food, drink and perhaps shelter.  There may also be a crowd along the way, clapping and cheering as the participants pass by, giving encouragement “well done”, “keep going”, “Only 4000 Kilometres to go” and so on. 
The Christian life is in many ways a bit like a long endurance race.  We will sometimes find the going tough, we may even want to give up, drop out completely or hail a taxi to take us to the finish line!  One of the things that makes it easier is when we encourage one another.  I just love it when I hear that happening, when you take the time and the effort to look after your fellow travellers and ask how they are doing and help them in different ways, encourage them to persevere and pray for them.  This is one of the reasons why the Tuesday morning and Thursday evening groups work so well for those that take part; they are places of encouragement.  People always come away encouraged and built up in their faith. 
As we look at the reading today from 2 Timothy, we see that Timothy, a young church leader has a very tough job to do.  Without support, it would be fair to say that Timothy would not have lasted the distance, yet the letters he receives from the Apostle Paul (who is in prison in Rome), spur him on and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, he is given the power and energy and strength to persevere. 
Right in the first verse, Paul puts the Gospel in a nutshell; it is “the promise of life”.  Outside of what Jesus did for us upon the cross there is no promise of life.  Without Christ we are completely lost and without any hope, yet the gift of God is forgiveness and eternal life.
Then in verse 3, Paul writes: 
I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 
Wow, Imagine that, having the Apostle Paul pray for you, wouldn’t that be great!  Perhaps we underestimate the importance of praying for each other.  I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your prayers for my family and for me “Please Lord help Daniel with his work, help him to get round all the visits he needs to do, get to all the meetings he needs to be at and let his sermon not be so long this week Amen!”  Let us always pray for each other, for our family members, friends and even people whom we don’t know.  I’m sure that in heaven we will be stunned at the effect our prayers had in the purposes of God’s Kingdom, how God used our weakness to perform mighty acts of greatness.  Never underestimate the power of prayer. 
Timothy came from a godly home.  Paul writes that
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.  (v 5)
The love of Jesus was there in Timothy’s younger days.  He saw how important this faith was to his grandmother and mother.  Timothy grew up in the Lord.  How important it is for us to make sure that our children ‘grow up in the Lord’, that we show them a godly example of how to live and that we teach them to pray and teach them to read the Bible and show them how to be godly, to be loving to others, to be forgiving and gentle, yet strong in faith and courage.  I know how difficult this is and we can only begin to do it with God’s help, but I am convinced that all the effort that we put into trying to bring up our children to know and love the Lord Jesus will not be in vain.  Our children may not turn out the way we want them to, but if they can just acknowledge God in their life then ultimately that is all that matters. 
As the weather begins to turn cold once more some of you may have already lit your first fire for several months.  Some people just seem to have a gift when it comes to lighting a fire.  Many times I have a fire all set, I have a good amount of dry kindling and newspaper and it is all looking good.  I light the match and it all starts off well, the fire roars into life then in no time at all the flame dies down and there is just a bit of smoke hanging on and it is all looking rather pathetic.  Then Sonja comes in, gives me a look of pity, and in less than a minute I have to stand back because the heat of the fire is so great! 
The Apostle Paul likens Timothy’s spiritual gift to a fire.  He says:  
 I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. (6b, 7)
We don’t know especially what Timothy’s gift is, but the same truth applies to us also.  What gifts do you have?  What has God made you good at?  Gifts tend to fade in strength when they are not used or encouraged, so whatever gift you have make sure you use it and when you do, give all the credit and glory to God, because a gift is just that, a gift.  There are lots of people at the moment helping to make the Alpha course we are doing go so well, including those with the gift of hospitality.  They are using that gift so well that the Grace Centre feels such a welcoming and homely place (not to mention the fact that I have probably put on half a stone since the course has started)! 
It seems that Timothy was (understandably) a bit overawed by the responsibilities entrusted to him.  Ephesus was a city where few people had any sympathy for Christ; there was much persecution and opposition to the Christians there.  Paul reminds Timothy to rekindle, to get the fire going again, to be strong in the Lord, not to rely on his own strength and power, but Gods strength and power.  The word ‘cowardice’ in the Greek means someone who flees from the battle, who will not stand up to the fight.  How often has this been true of us, that we have not spoken up when we should have done?  How often have we neglected to tell someone of God’s love and forgiveness, how often have we fled from the battle?  I can think of many times when I should have spoken up on something but didn’t, so I am encouraged by this verse and I hope you are too; God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. 
We know that in our own strength we are simply not able, we do not have the ability to use our God-given gifts, we are naturally cowards who run away from the battle, we are lacking in love and we have the self-discipline of a sloth!  Verse 8 though gives us the answer:
‘…relying on the power of God’ 
That’s it, that’s the secret.  Relying on the power of God.  Have you ever run out of petrol and had to push your car?  It’s not easy is it?  It is possible (especially with a bit of help) to move the car, but it will move very slowly and only for a short distance.  When we do not rely on the power of God it is like we are running on empty!  We need His power and we get this power when we surrender to Him, when we hand over control of our lives to Him.  Let us pray:
Here I am Lord, I give you everything, my whole life and all that I am.  All my plans, wishes and desires I give to you.  Leave no stone unturned.  Lord, please heal me of my selfishness and forgive me for the countless times I have sinned.  Cleanse me through the power of the cross, wash me from the inside out.  Lord I am yours, use me for the glory of your name and by your grace to make a real difference in this world for you.  Fill me with your Spirit that I may not be afraid to speak about you and to help people in your name, to live out the gospel everyday in all that I say and all that I do and I ask this in the name of your Son, my Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen. 
September 7, 2010

Raging Waters

Rushing Wave

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.

(Luke 8:24)

Dear Lord Jesus, for all those who are facing storms and trials and great difficulties, we pray for your calm and peace to come into their hearts and lives.  For all who need stillness, for those who need to see the way ahead, speak your words of truth and light.

Help us to let you be in charge of our lives, let you be the Captain who steers, the Navigator who directs and the Saviour who heals and forgives….

June 25, 2010

Barley Cove

A little while ago now, for a belated family celebration we took a trip an hour-and-a-bit West from here to Barley Cove for the night.  It is a beautiful place.  We got a great deal on a family room overlooking the beach, which was only a couple of minutes walk away.  If the sun is shining it is hard to beat Ireland (that’s a very big ‘IF’ though)!

I limited myself to just two rolls of film and a 50mm lens, so no sweeping landscapes, just little details here and there…

May 12, 2010


Nikon F100, Nikkor 28-105 D, Fuji Reala 100

Potential:  Existing in possibility, capable of development into actuality…

May 6, 2010

Garden Colour Part Two

See how the lilies of the field grow.  They do not labour or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.  
(Matthew 6:28b, 29)

Well Spring has sprung a bit more since last time.  If ever you are thinking about a film for showing off colour (whether it be in your garden, landscapes or even for portraits) may I humbly recommend Fuji’s Reala 100.  Seeing as only strange people like me use film these days I got twenty rolls of this film off eBay for £20!  All these pictures were taken with a Nikon F100 and 28-105 AF-D lens.  
June 10, 2009

Red in tooth and claw

Camera: Olympus OM-1, Lens: G.Zuiko 50mm f1.4, Film: Fujicolor Reala 100

“Nature, red in tooth and claw.” I don’t know how I feel when our cat does this sort of thing. I wish he would just kill the mouse quickly and eat it, the whole playing with it first and teasing it and then letting it escape to run after it some more is to me a little too cruel…

But then that’s life and that’s nature in this fallen world in which we live. The Bible shows us that this was neither how it was in the beginning nor how it will be at the end:

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
(Isaiah 11:6-9)

Yes there’s probably a healthy dose of metaphor in those words but the clearer meaning is the most obvious one i.e. that when God makes a ‘new heaven and earth’ there will be a return to how things were meant to be before the fall….

June 1, 2009

A Fête (not) worse than death

Camera: Olympus OM-1, Lens: G.Zuiko 50mm f1.4, Film Fujifilm Reala 100

Camera: Olympus OM-1, Lens: G.Zuiko 50mm f1.4, Film Fujifilm Reala 100

Camera: Olympus OM-1, Lens: G.Zuiko 50mm f1.4, Film Fujifilm Reala 100

We enjoyed great weather for our Parish Fete in Glanmire recently. It’s really good to see everyone from different parts of the Parish coming together to get this thing organised every year. Even though it’s a real slog and people get fed up, by the time it’s all over we are agreed that it wasn’t the “Fête worse than death” that we had all feared!

The above photos were all taken on my old Olympus OM-1 film camera and the negatives scanned using an Epson 4490 flatbed scanner. If you are interested you can see more photos on our Parish web site.