Sermons 2007
A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Proper 21C 2007 Luke 16:19-31

Here in this part of Virginia we are in the midst of a severe drought. I have heard talk on the streets of town, in the post office, at Lee’s, and in the Tri-Star checkout line about this being the worst drought in years. Seems a quandary, surrounded as we are by water here on the Northern Neck.

Elsewhere in the United States, water issues have loomed large for centuries, particularly in the West. And in modern-day Palestine, access to water is a continuing burning issue between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It has always been true in that part of the world. Jesus himself said, “For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.”

There is a place near Fowler, Kansas, called the Artesian Valley, a man who has lived there since he was two years old, remembers why the valley was so named. "There were hundreds of natural springs in this valley. If you drilled a well for your house, the natural water pressure was enough to go through your hot-water system and out the shower head." There were marshes in Fowler in the 1920s, where cattle sank to their bellies in mud. And the early settlers went boating down Crooked Creek, in the shade of the cottonwoods, as far as Meade, twelve miles away.

Today the creek is dry, the bogs and the springs have gone, and the people of Fowler dig deeper and deeper wells to bring up water. What happened? Seen from the air, the surrounding land is pockmarked with giant discs of green--quarter-section pivot-irrigation systems water rich crops of corn, steadily depleting the underlying aquifer. Everybody in Fowler knows what is happening, but no one thinks it in their interest to cut their own consumption of water. That would just leave more for somebody else.

Five thousand miles to the east, near the Spanish city of Valencia, the waters of the River Turia are shared by some 15,000 farmers in an arrangement that dates back at least 550 years and probably longer. Each farmer, when his turn comes, takes as much water as he needs from the distribution canal and wastes none. He is discouraged from cheating--watering out of turn--merely by the watchful eyes of his neighbors above and below him on the canal. If they have a grievance, they can take it to the water tribunal, which meets on Thursday mornings outside the Apostles' door of the Cathedral of Valencia. Records dating back to the 1400s suggest that cheating is rare. The region of Valencia is profitable, growing at least two crops a year.

Two irrigation systems: one sustainable, equitable, and long-lived, the other a free-for-all descent into drought. (1)

Some years ago before the death of Mother Theresa, a television special depicted the grim human conditions that were a part of her daily life. It showed all the horror of the slums of Calcutta and her love for these destitute people in places where clean water was lacking. Throughout the program commercials interrupted the flow of the discussion. Here is the sequence of the topics and commercials: lepers (bikinis for sale); mass starvation (designer jeans); agonizing poverty (fur coats); abandoned babies (ice cream sundaes) the dying (diamond watches). Polluted water throughout.

The irony was so apparent. Two different worlds were on display--the world of the poor and the world of the affluent. Sometimes it seems that our very culture here in the United States, is teaching us to live as the Rich Man in this gospel story of Lazarus. We see our poor Lazarus’s beyond the heads of our lanes but what do we do about it? We are running into the danger that we have separated ourselves from the agonies of others. Worse, that we did not care about others who suffered. (2)

There was a large farm pond that had lost its freshness. The water had been clear. It attracted animals and people alike. But it became covered with a green scum. The farm animals became sick from drinking the pond water. Finally someone came by who understood the problem. Debris pushed by the hard spring rains and thaw had collected in the dam spillway and slowed the free flow of water out of the pond. When the spillway was cleared soon the pond was fresh and clean again. The flow in and out was necessary to keep the water pure and fresh and healthy.

The blessings of life flow to us. Do they stop there? (3)

1. Matt Ridley and Bobbi S. Low, The Atlantic Monthly, September 1993. Adapted. eSermons Illustrations for 23 September 2007
2. Brett Blair,, eSermons Illustrations for 23 September 2007
3. Richard W. Patt, All Stirred Up, CSS Publishing, eSermons Illustrations for 23 September 2007