The Rev. Canon Jan Naylor Cope
Today’s Gospel: John 7:37–52
“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.’” This passage from John’s gospel records Jesus crying out on the last day of the Festival of Booths. Jesus has been teaching during the festival and causing conflict along the way. Who is this man whom some consider a prophet, some the Messiah and one who even the temple police acknowledge is unique—“Never has anyone spoken like this!”? Jesus cries out on the last day as if to say, if you remember or get nothing else out of what I have said, get this! If you are thirsty, come to me and drink of the living water that will never perish.
The imagery of thirst and living water and hunger and the bread of life are replete in the Bible. One of my favorite stories of Jesus and the living water offered to all who thirst, no exceptions, is the story that comes earlier in John’s gospel, the story of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42). Observant Jews traditionally went out of their way to avoid contact with Samaritans—particularly female Samaritans! In this passage, Jesus engages in a lengthy conversation with the Samaritan woman, and he ultimately offers her the same living water that he offers to you and me. The water is free, all we have to do is thirst, drink and believe.
This is the season to acknowledge the areas in our lives where we are parched, alone and struggling with a thirst we can’t seem to quench. Jesus, the living water, awaits if we will but go to him and believe and drink deeply.
Mercifully hear our prayers, O Lord, and spare all those who confess their sins to you; that those whose consciences are accused by sin may by your merciful pardon be absolved; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006, pg 55)