The Master Needs You

February 27, 2005

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church

 

John 4:5-42


 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning.

 

[Pastor Tony brings out a drinking glass.]

I present to you a glass of water, clear, sparkling, refreshing, thirst-quenching, life-giving water. It’s an image that Jesus loved. He spoke of His love in this morning’s gospel as being like a fountain of water within us, sparkling up like an Artesian well and leading to everlasting life. He used water as the image of what happens inside our souls when we accept Him as Lord and Savior and let Him have charge of our lives. Water, a great gift of God.

 

Isn’t it true that, when astronomers explore other planets, they look for signs of water, because if they find signs of water they may find signs of life? What a remarkable gift of God!

 

The gospel this morning tells of how Jesus went into a Samaritan village. Now that, my friends, was a questionable thing to do, because for a Jew, a Samaritan village was a very tough part of town. There was great enmity between the Jews and the Samaritans. They didn’t want anything to do with each other. If an Orthodox Jew were to make a financial transaction with a Samaritan, for instance, and the Samaritan were to pay him, the Orthodox Jew likely would hold out a jar of water that the Samaritan could put the money into, so that the Orthodox Jew wouldn’t have to touch it. That’s hard feelings.

 

If a Samaritan came into a Jewish village and then went out again, an Orthodox Jew might throw straw into his footsteps and set it afire. That’s hard feelings.

 

And here comes Jesus into a Samaritan village. Why? We’ll see. He stops at a well and is thirsty at noon. He comes with a very interesting purpose in mind. There is a woman there who needs to be saved. There is a person there who needs to know the love of God. There is a woman there who needs to know that she is important in the scheme of things. And He has come to tell her that.

 

In order to accomplish that, Jesus does something interesting. Did you notice where the disciples were? They went shopping. All twelve disciples went out to McDonald’s or the equivalent in those days to get food for the twelve disciples. If you’re getting pizza for twelve people, you don’t need to send all twelve people, but Jesus sent all twelve to get food. Why? He sent them out so they wouldn’t be in the way. He knew their prejudices about the Samaritan people; He knew that   an Orthodox Jewish man talking to a Samaritan woman was going raise great eyebrows.

 

So he said, “Why don’t all of you just go out and get us something for lunch?” And off they went.

 

This woman came to the well. It was a difficult task to get the water, to fetch it up from the bottom of Jacob’s well with a bucket and a rope and carry it. And Jesus said to her, “Hello. I need your help. I would like a glass of water, please. Can you help me?” He even addressed her with the title ‘Woman.’ He used the same title for His mother. ‘Ma’am’ might be the better translation.

 

She said, “How can this be? You are a Jew; I am a Samaritan. You are a Jewish male; I am a Samaritan woman. I am worthless in your sight. How could it possibly be that you ask me for water? How could it possibly be that I could do anything good for you?”

 

And He said, “If only you knew the gift, and if only you knew who was talking to you.” Wow! It transformed her life. From that moment, when she handed that glass of water to Him, she knew that she could do something important for Jesus. She was transformed, and she became like a fountain of light to the others in the village. She called them and said, “Come, see a person who told me every wrong thing I’ve ever done but loves me still. It’s amazing.” And they came and saw, and there was a wonderful transformation within the town, because of a glass of water.

 

The thing is this: Jesus gives us dignity, He gives us purpose, and He reminds us of our worth, by giving us something special to do in the Kingdom. He has set it up so that we are not merely distant and passive observers, but we are doers. Throughout the gospel, He invites people to come and do, come and follow, go and tell, go and help. He invites us all to do something special for the Master, and as we do, we draw closer to Him, and we get enthusiasm for our faith.

 

My question for you is this: if Jesus asks you for a cup of water, what will you say? Will you feel worthy enough to give it? Oh, I pray that you do.

 

It ties in to a dream I have for our congregation, our church. My hope is that every member of Montgomery United Methodist Church will be able to say the following:  I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and my ministry is _____ -- and then fill in the blank. I invite you to think about that. If you can fill in the blank right now, fantastic. If you are still looking for things to fill in the blank, hallelujah! Let’s see what the future holds. My dream is for every member to be able to fill in that blank. My ministry is ___.

 

What is ministry? Ministry is making a positive difference for Christ’s sake. Let me give you a few examples:

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and my ministry is that I serve on the Board of Trustees. I work and give up evenings for the Lord so that the building can be strong and clean and attractive and welcoming.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and I care for the grounds, so that people passing by and members coming in may know that it is cared for and know that the people here love the church and love the Lord.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and I’m with the outreach team, and I make people feel welcome.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and my ministry is that I am a contributor, and I intentionally give a percentage of my blessings to the work of the Lord. I give faithfully, and that is my ministry.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and my ministry is that I sing or I ring or I play music so that the Lord’s praise can be glorious.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and I’m on the finance team, so that the business workings of the church and its finance can be orderly and respectable and good.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and my ministry is that I am a faithful attender. I attend every Sunday that I possibly can, both to bless the Lord and to bless everybody else that’s here by my presence.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and my ministry is that I am a welcomer. It is not a title listed in any book, but I take it on myself, so that those who come here know the welcoming blessing of the Lord.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and I make coffee, so that the fellowship time can be sweet and good.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and I am an usher, so that people may feel welcome and comfortable when they come to the Lord’s house.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and I am in the children’s choir or the youth choir, so that I may sing and lift people’s hearts.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and I am on the fellowship team, so that people can feel that they matter.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and I am a peace maker, a problem solver, an encourager of the staff. I’m on the staff-parish relations committee.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and I am a teacher, so that future generations may know the truth and the joy of Jesus Christ.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and I am an encourager. Though my title is not listed in any book, I take it upon myself to encourage the pastor, encourage the organist, encourage the secretary, encourage the custodian, so they may be lifted up in the Lord, and I pray for them every time I think about it. I encourage the lay leadership with good words, as St. Barnabas did.

 

I am an active member of Montgomery United Methodist Church, and I am a prayer partner. I may be confined to bed and not able to get around very much. I may read the sermons on the internet. I pray for the church, and that is my ministry. It is my cup of water for Christ.

 

Friend, what does your badge say? What is your ministry in the Kingdom of God? Some of you wear several hats and have several badges, and some of you are looking for what your calling may be. This I know – there is a calling in store for you, and you are important.

 

As you go forth into the world this week, I invite you to think about what your ministry is. I also want you to think of your work in the world, of every time you help people, of every time you bless the earth, the environment, God’s creations, the animals. Do it in the name of Christ, for it will be like offering a cup of water to the Lord Jesus.

 

Oh, dear friend, if Jesus asks us, “May I have a cup of water, please?”  what will our answer be? I pray that from the bottom of our hearts, we will say “Yes, Lord, yes! Thanks for the opportunity.”

 

God loves you. I do, too. Have a wonderful week. Amen.

 

© 2005 Anthony J. Godlefski