Sermon – At the Well

Here’s this morning’s sermon. I went a little off piste from the text, but essentially what I wanted to say is in both the video and the words below.

Let me begin this morning with a poem. Just a short poem – so slight that you need to listen or it will pass you by. Water – by Philip Larkin.

If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

Going to church
Would entail a fording
To dry, different clothes;

My liturgy would employ
Images of sousing,
A furious devout drench,

And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly.

I want us to think this morning about what it means to construct a religion – a way of being spiritual and to reflect on that with the woman at the well – the source of the water, that Jesus himself wanted to drink from.

Now. We seem to have forgotten what significance wells have had in attempts to learn to be spiritual.

Later today, those of you who are here with the Friends of Cathedral Music will make your way to the Medieval Cathedral in Glasgow to take part in a service there. It is the rock from which we were hewn – or the well from which we here once drew water. For the people who became this congregation were turfed out of there for keeping the Episcopal faith in 1689.

Should anyone find their way into the under-church in the Medieval Cathedral they will find one of the clues as to why that church is where it is. Just by Mungo’s tomb, set now into the walls is a well. It is easy to ask why they would build a well into the walls of a church but of course that is to get it the wrong way round. The Saint Mungo came to a holy place to minister. Came to a holy well where he lived and died and was buried. And above and around him and the well, grew the building that now stands there today.

If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

So great is our need of water, so powerful is the need to quench our thirst that it should not be difficult to understand why wells were holy places. [Read more…]