(Jeremiah 2:4-13; John 7:37-39) – J G White
11 am, Sunday, September 1, 2019 – UBC Digby
We read our first detailed warnings from Jeremiah of old, today. Chapter 2. The ancestors did wrong and turned away from God. Their priests did not know God. Those prophets spoke on behalf of Ba’al, not Yahweh. They changed their God! They forsake the Fountain of living water.
Years ago I had a job that involved saving water. I worked for a university at their research station on a large island in Shelburne county. We lived in one of the old lighthouse keepers houses. We had electricity. We had a gigantic propane stove and grill. We had a boat to get back and forth. I think my boss had a cellular telephone. But we did not have good well water on the island. It was so brackish and dark.
So the lighthouse keeper’s houses had cisterns in the basement: the rainwater drained from the roof into the large concrete container that took up a third of the basement. We kept a close eye on the water level of the cistern, as the summer went on. Every four or five days one could take a bath! In a bit of water. As my boss would say to visitors: just a couple inches of water. Wash down as far as possible, wash up as far as possible, then wash possible.
There are two houses on the island, but in the basement of one, the concrete cistern would not hold water anymore: it was cracked. Useless.
Many peoples around the globe are water saving cultures. In deserts, on islands, and so forth. It is vital to survival. How different this is from being here on town water, or having your own wonderful well that never goes dry. Think of that ever-flowing water along the side of the road in Weymouth.
This is living water – flowing water. It is the image of the prophet in Jeremiah 2. And the picture Jesus paints, more than once. Let anyone who is thirsty come to me…‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ (Jn 7:37, 38)
When unending, fresh, living-giving, living water is available, why rely upon bottles and barrels and sandy cisterns? This is the question God poses through Jeremiah’s voice.
…my people have… forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water. (Jer 2:13)
I wonder what cracked cisterns I have occasionally dug for myself. I like church and a lot of religious traditions. Instead of the Holy Spirit, I rely upon organ music, or nice hymns, or fancy prayers, or thoughtful books. The tools of our Faith can become more important than the God of our Faith.
In my better moments, I realize how sentimental and nostalgic I can be. Maybe like you, I get attached to the past. I love the good old days, and like to preserve them. Thanks be to God, I’ve had a couple special moments this year, God moments, Divine encounters, in which I felt inspired and realized, “These are the good old days here and now! Thank- You, Master!”
I like my lifestyle, my freedom, my standard of living, my great expectations for how wonderful life will keep on being for us here. Do I worship my middle-class luxuries more than the Saviour who sacrificed Himself completely?
Some people get locked-in to their thoughts, their opinions, their religious convictions. I have a tendency to think outside the box, and explore spirituality on the edges of Christianity. I sometimes am warned by 2 Timothy 4:3&4 For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.
The good news in the warnings of Jeremiah, and of Jesus, is that there is a fountain of living water for the human spirit. There is a Holy Spirit, there is a Saviour, there is a loving Creator. Our challenge, is to keep choosing to drink freely from the free Source. It is as free as that spring from the spigots in Weymouth. We need not worry about saving water – keeping and protecting our spirituality. The saving water – the water that saves – will not run out on us.