Water – Sermon text

Water. Sermon 24 Sep 2017 by Robert Douglas

Please pray with me

Lord teach us to listen, teach us to quieten all noise in our lives so we can hear your voice.

Lord we pray that these words I speak will be examples of your wishes. Will be solace to some and encouragement to others and we pray that my interpretation of your bible in this way is acceptable to you..Amen

We have covered all the elements this month in our sermons starting with Earth then Sarah brought us wind and last week our pastor Michael brought us Fire bringing us to the last one tonight which is Water,

Probably the most important of the elements and this is the one, nobody can live without and really pleased I have this for my sermon.

This is because water runs (no pun intended!) through my life in so many ways.

I was brought up on a small island (only 8miles x 4miles) called Guernsey so surrounded by the sea and when I decided to retire from business I moved from London and returned to being by water, the sea here in Brighton

Water is a constant subject for my paintings and behind me is one depicting water running over mossy stones and creating beautiful foam. This was the result of a photo I took in 2014 while staying in Bovey Tracy on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. Before breakfast I strolled alongside this bubbling brook that runs through the centre of the town with the rising sun glistening on the water.

The first mention of water in Scripture is found in our first reading, in Genisis 1 verse 2

The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

We know that the earth is two-thirds water and there are over 722 references (or derivatives of it) of it in the Bible. The significance of water in the scriptures are huge and varied.

In Genisis, we read of the perfect conditions of the Garden of Eden. This garden was watered by the river (in verse 10). Without water, the garden would have died, as plants animals and humans cannot survive without water. Before there was anything; light, sun or moon, earth, plants, living creatures or anything else, there was water.  You probably know that we ourselves are over 60% water.

When we read of space exploration the first thing the explorers are looking for are signs of water.

We remember the rhyme  “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink” which apparently was written in the 1700’s by Samuel T Coleridge in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” when adrift on the seas.

In the recent typhoons and earthquakes, floods are everywhere but people are unable to drink the water so priority is given to bottled water to save lives. Following the typhoons on the news this week we see the aircraft carrier moored off Puerto Rico flying tons of bottled water by helicopter to land.

In day five of the Creation we find, again in Geneisis 1 verse 20… God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that have life. This passage shows us that life comes out of water.

In the natural birth process that is so true. After conception we continue to develop and grow in what is essentially a sack of water inside the womb. When a woman is in labour and the baby about to be born we wait for the “waters to break” so that the child can come into this world.

Throughout the Bible Christ makes this wonderful picture of not only seeing water as part of His life but also being seen spiritually as the flowing spirit of God.

As with physical birth (water birth) must come Spiritual birth as we see in our second reading of John 3, 1-5. Jesus declares to Nicodemus.. I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again.

Nicodemus then asked” How can a person be reborn surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb again when they are old?

But Jesus answered  “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

Water symbolises God’s Word in many places throughout the Bible. In both Psalms and Ephesians water is a symbol of God’s word. This is really a continuation of God’s Word as it relates both figuratively and literally as a means of purification and cleansing.

We read of the ceremonial washing of the feet with water symbolizing greater purity and of course the most important of the use of water…baptism.

For baptism we need water and usually it was a lake or sea in the  Bible.

Let me now recount you a story

A drunk comes upon a baptismal service by a river and stumbles up to the pastor while watching closely at the process.

The minister then turns to him and asks him,

Are you ready to find Jesus? To which the drunk replies yes I am.

The minister then takes the man and dunks him into the water. On coming up the minister asks him “Now have you found Jesus?” The man replies…No I did not.  He asked him again when he dunked him again into the water. Have you found Jesus now?  The drunk man replies No

On the third time the minister holds the man under the water for at least 30 seconds then brings him up saying…Friend are you sure you hav’nt found Jesus?  To which the drunk wipes his eyes and splutters back.   Are you sure this is where he fell in?

Joking aside let us see what baptism means    1 to be washed,  2 to be buried (or should I say immersed) and 3 to pass on sin by laying on of hands

In the New Testament, the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist was to wash away all the sins of the world. Jesus baptised by John is the representative of all human beings to taking symbolically all the sins of the world upon Himself. This was the purpose of His baptism to witness the washing away of all the sins of humankind. Here we see the use of water and showing its cleansing power.

I find being close to water either as a lake or the sea so cleansing and relaxing and even the sound of the rain seems to make me aware of my inner senses. One of my earliest 78 rpm records owned in the fifties, now sadly lost, was one of a selection of spirituals sung by black slaves in a prison with a corrugated roof. The sound of rain on that roof in the background still stays with me and I would love to find those recordings again.

I have painted water in many forms and here is a water colour painted in 1982 of a small lake in Highgate, North London, where I lived for over 53 years. This is in Waterlow Park being the lowest of five lakes dropping into each other from Hampstead, through Kenwood to finally Highgate. I have spent many hours sitting alongside it day and night ,in good and bad stages of my life, to contemplate and feel its magic.

When you read the passages relating to water in the Bible you see many times they were calmed by Jesus

The first mention of water was found in Genisis and the last mention is found in Revelation 21 and 22.

Revelation 21  And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

No more sea in Heaven, no more restlessness, no more tribulation, all calmed by the Lord Jesus Christ forever. However, although there will be no sea in heaven, there will be water, eternal water that flows forever.

Revelation 22 1  And He showed me a pure river of water, of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life. Which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

And the very final reference of water in the Bible


Revelation 21   verse 17

And the spirit and the bride say: Come and let him that heareth say..Come        And let him that is athirst…Come    And whosoever will,  let him take the water of life freely


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