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Final Sermons: Water (Sermon Video and Manuscript)

Water is an important subject in the Bible.  The biblical stories are played out largely against the backdrop of a dry, thirsty land.

Patterson Avenue Baptist had a huge mural in its welcome center of a stream of gently flowing waters, inspired by Psalm 23.

Baptist think a lot of water.  When we welcome a new member, it is generally by immersing the person completely under water.  Despite the fact that we were heading toward our final worship gathering, we still had one Sunday to celebrate WATER as we welcomed two new members into the fellowship by Baptism.

The sermon notes and video below are simply titled WATER, and speak to the refreshment of God’s grace.

 

 

Water – Matthew 10:42

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

I received a sales letter via email from a musician acquaintance of mine who has recorded/produced an album which is titled: “The Journey.” The album contains 40 minutes of guitar music proclaimed to be the perfect background for:

Massage – Creativity – Relaxation – Hypnosis – Meditation – Walking – Sleeping –Yoga – Pilates –
Journaling – Reading – Praying

Not to mention being perfect for those intimate moments with your spouse.

What makes this guitar music unique (claims the musician) was that it was recorded with the audio backdrop of soothing, comforting, inspiring sounds of flowing waters. Nobody’s ever thought of doing that, before. Each of the four 10-minutes tracks includes classical guitar music recorded with the background sounds of rain-fall, a babbling-brook, ocean waves, or a water-fall.

The creator of the music writes:

“You have never experienced anything like The Journey(the name of the album). It’s designed to relax, clean, clear, release, remove and free you of any and all inner blocks – while all you do is relax and listen. The sounds of water help release blocks and ‘wash’ them away.”

He was inspired to produce this album after a morning walk through the river park near his home’s subdivision. It was a warm day, warmer than usual, and the humidity was very high. He was looking forward to getting home to his indoor air conditioning. As he got close to home, it started to lightly rain. The water cooled his body and produced a wonderful scent as landing on the asphalt in from of him. By time he arrived home, he did not want to go inside. It was more comforting to stand in the driveway of his house and soaked in the good emotions and positive vibes of the rain-fall.

That’s when he said he was inspired to create this album. “Use the sound of water” a small voice whispered to his spirit as he stood outside his home.

At first he says that he didn’t really pay attention. But the “voice” kept repeating: “Use the sound of water,” getting a little louder in his thoughts.

“Use the sound of water for cleaning!”

He claimed that the various sounds of water, accompanied by the guitar, could clear away distress, mental blocks, doubts, fears, and all sorts of anxiety.

He bolstered his cased with science. He pointed out that over 70% of the Earth’s surface is water. Further, the human body is composed mostly of water. Remove the water and all you are left with is a few pounds of minerals worth a little less than five dollars.

My email friend continued:

…water has a continuous cleansing cycle, evaporating into the atmosphere, forming clouds and then releasing rain.

The rain falls back to the earth… replenishing the land, the plants and giving nourishment to animals and human beings.

Some of this rain then travels through rivers and babbling brooks.

From higher to lower points, the water crushes down with great pressure creating magnificent waterfalls.

Eventually this water leads back to the ocean and then repeats this life sustaining process again.

Water, is a great necessity, without it nothing can live. Only earth and water can bring forth a living soul. Such is the greatness of water that spiritual regeneration cannot be done without it.

In short, water is a powerful cleansing tool, and not just for moping the floor or wiping down a kitchen countertop. Water also soothes the soul and relaxes our minds and emotions.

At least that’s what this musician says.

So, what do you think? Do you buy into all this stuff? It’s okay if you do or you don’t. For me, it does seem a little “new age” to me. That being said, we all understand the soothing effects of flowing water.

I have sat along the beach and listened as the comforting sounds of the waves crashing along the shore.

I have sat near a babbling brook and heard the soothing sounds of the flowing water.

I have hiked through a mountainous region to discover the relaxing sight and sound of water falling on rocks below.

The sound of flowing water does have the ability to help me distress, unwind, and relax. It feels cleansing to my spirit. So, maybe there is something to all this stuff about water.

The Bible is filled with stories that accentuate the importance of water. That’s not surprising. If you live in a parched, desert-like wasteland, water is more than a refreshing beverage or a pleasant sounding ambient noise. . In the desert, water is literally the substance of life. .

Psalm 23 speaks about the “streams of still (gently flowing) waters.”
Isaiah 44 speaks about God as one who “pour(s) water upon (those who are) thirsty, and sends floods of water to parched ground.”

In John 4, Jesus says that those who “drink of the water that (He) shall give (will) never thirst again” because “the water that (he gives) will be like well within the person producing living water unto eternal life.”

In John 7, Jesus refers to himself as living water, and he invites those who are thirsty for life to come and drink.

The Book of Revelation speaks of a “…pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God.”

And in today’s lesson, Jesus speaks of the ministry of his disciples in terms related to them sharing water with the world. A true disciple, Jesus says, is one who “gives cups of cold water.”

So water is pretty important, both in terms of the nourishment it gives, and the symbol it represents. Water represents energy, passion, and comfort. Water is symbolic for life itself. It’s symbolic for the life that comes to us from God.

I spoke with a dear friend of our family this past week. He name is Christine Walters. She is an actress, a comic, the co-author of a book, and the founder of Richmond’s “Comedy Sportz” theatre.

I was sharing with her a bit about the journey we have been on as a congregation over the last several years, and particularly in recent days.

Christine is a very thoughtful person and always has something to say that inspires me. This occasion was no different. She spoke about Beavers and why they build dams.

Beavers build Dams for food storage and protection. When they build a dam it creates an artificial lake. They build their lodge nearby so they can travel a short distance to their artificial lake. The short distance protests them from other animals and predators and their artificial lake provides them with the resources they need to live.

After a time, however, the Beaver’s lake ceases to provide life. It’s not that the Beaver did anything wrong. The Beaver only did what God in nature programmed him to do. He built a dam to create a lake to capture nourishment.

Nor was there any fault in the water. For a time, it generously provided the Beaver’s family with food.

But for water to do all is suppose to do, it cannot remain stagnant. It must flow from place to place. When the water becomes stagnant, the Beaver must move to some place new, and the dam needs to wither away so the water can once again flow.
That’s what has happened here.

God has NOT failed us. God has provided us with nourishment. God gave us cups of cold water to share and consume.

We have NOT failed God, either. We have done what we were called to do to the best of our resource and ability. We have cared for families, comforted those who are bereaved, supported mission causes and ministries, trained seminarians, and helped plant new congregations, one of which is still meeting in this facility as we speak.

God has NOT failed us and we have NOT failed God. What has happened is that the lake created was used to its fullest. Then it cease to flow. That’s the way things work. Now it is time for us to move on. On August 20th, we will pronounce our final benediction – and you life will have the chance to flow in a new place.

What we need to remember is that “the lake” was never the source of life. This facility and our experiences in it are NOT our source of life. Only God is that source. Only God is our supply. Life always flows from God.

Have you ever tried to grasp flowing waters?

I want you to try something a little weird when you get home. Go in your kitchen. Turn on the faucet at the sink. Then reach out with one hand and grabbed hold of the water.

Can you do it?

No, flowing water can never be grabbed hold of. It’s always washing away. But that flowing water is always in abundant supply.
God is like that.

Life does not come from the artificial lake. Stagnant water will eventually cease provide life, joy, and abundance. But water that flows – water that flows from the Abba’s throne – that water will never stop flowing, but will well up within us unto eternal life.

You can’t grab, possess, or control that water. Your might be able to dam it up for a short time, but water behind a dam will become stagnant and stale. Eventually it will burst forth from that dam and begin to flow in new directions.

We are here for just a short time further. I encourage you to be here every week to celebrate the life God has given; the life God shares to us and through us. Then, after we have pronounced our final benediction, remember that the flowing grace of God (not this artificial lake) is the SOURCE of all life.

And remember this meal, too. As with the flowing waters of abundant love, what we remember and recognize in this meal is the inbounding flow of Divine grace that grants us life.

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