Sunday, October 25, 2009

Danny Titus’ sermon on dealing with diversity

Read, Scripture: John 4:1-30

  1. The times we are living in

Dear sisters and brothers, young people, some children. We live in a time where we have to realize that there are many differences among us. Particularly when it comes to religion. We need to respect and recognize the cultural and religious diversity in our country. And also as we know, within our Christian churches there are differences, and even within our Uniting Reformed Church there are differences. Our praise and worship in Riverlea differs greatly from that of Coronationville or that of Eldoradopark. I personally would like to see that we use our Sionsgesangboek more in Riverlea and that we read the Ten Commandments and the Confession of Faith more in this service too. But that is a matter I will take up with the Church Council.

Fact of the matter is that we need to be mindful of the differences and not disrespect them and to see ourselves as better, but to remain respectful.


 

The concern I have is that we become so mindful and respectful that we forget our own Christianity and our own belief in Jesus Christ. It is not time that we become clear on what it is that we believe in, who it is that we serve and what it is that we stand upon? We can be different, but first of all: know who we are as Christians, be clear why we chose for Jesus Christ and why we belong in this particular church.


 

This is becoming also evident in our backsliding, our falling down when we should be standing up in the name of Jesus Christ. There are so many distractions, we stray so easily. That is one of most painful things to observe: how Christians, brothers and sisters in Lord are ripping each other apart, how we are backstabbing each other, how we hate each other with a passion that has got nothing to do with the Passion of Jesus Christ.


 

"Ag, hoe het die getroue vesting 'n hoer geword!" Sê Jesaja 1:21.


 

"Dit was vol reg, geregtigheid het daarin vernag – en nou moordenaars!

Jou silwer het skuim geword; jou wyn is vervals met water.

Jou vorste is opstandelinge en metgeselle van diewe; elkeen van hulle het omkoopgeskenke lief en jaag belonings na. Aan die wees doen hulle geen reg nie, en die saak van die weduwee kom nie voor hulle nie."


 

Hoe het die getroue vesting 'n hoer geword!


 

We have to speak in general terms my sister and brother, but we will have to search ourselves in this church of Riverlea URC whether it does not apply to us as well. And when we find our answers we drastically will have to do something about it. Because the same Satan that has attacked the church throughout the ages, the same Satan will not leave our church, our brothers and sisters alone. He just loves it when we rip each other apart, when we stab each other in the back, and when we hate each other with a passion.


 

My sisters and brothers, we are sinking very fast and we need to find a way to get out of this mess. Jesus Christ paid a price for our lives with His Life, for our sins, our transgressions, our iniquities. We can choose for Him again, we can turn our lives away from our daily sins to Him. Toe Jesus vir Petrus uitnooi om met Hom op die water te loop, was daar een wat Petrus eers moes doen: hy moes eers uit die bootjie klim. Klim uit jou bootjie uit. Dan hou jy jou oë gevestig op Jesus. "Wié is Hy wat op die water loop? Dit is Jesus die Seun van God." Wie is Hy wat so lank reeds die pad met jou loop? Jou beskerm, jou oppas, jou niks laat ontbreek nie; jou laat neerlê in groen weivelde; jou lei na waters waar rus is, jou siel verkwik, jou lei in die spore van geregtigheid. Wie is Hy wat op die water loop? Dit is Jesus die Seun van God.


 

  1. Johannes 4:1-30

We find Jesus in John 4 where he is on His way to Samaria. The Bible says He was on His way to Galilee and He had to go through Samaria. But, we are told, He did not really have to go through Samaria. There were other ways to get to Galilee. But as we know Jesus, nothing He does is without a reason. He is quite deliberate in what He does and why He does it. Those of you that experienced His love and passion in your lives will know how He does things deliberately. His plan on earth was clearly God's plan, His plan with our lives is without a doubt, God's plan.


 

"Voordat Ek jou in die moederskoot gevorm het," sê die Here aan Jeremia (1:5), "het Ek jou geken; en voordat jy uit die liggaam voortgekom het, het Ek jou geheilig; Ek het jou tot 'n groot profeet vir die nasies gemaak."


 

"Want U het my niere gevorm, my in my moederskoot geweef." Psalm 139: 13.


 

Ons is deel van God se plan, lank voordat ons gebore is.


 

And so we see Him at the well in Sigar in Samaria, Jacob's well. He sat down and it seems He was thirsty, for when the woman came He asked her to give Him some water. Now the relations between the Jews and the Samaritans was not a good one. The Samaritans were the family that the Jews never wanted to know. This so-called hatred between the two nations came from quite far. The Samaritans claimed that they were also children of Jacob, just as the Jews were. But the Samaritans only recognized the first five books of the Bible as the Holy Scriptures. The rest of the Bible did not exist for them and the Jews saw this as heresy and did not forgive them for this at all. In 721 BC the city of Samaria was destroyed and the Jewish citizens were taken into exile. Upon their return under Ezra and Nehemia the Samaritans offered to help the Jews with the rebuilding of their temple. But the Jews refused this offer. In 128 BC the Jews burnt down the temple of the Samaritans in Gerasim. The relations were never restored.

And so, for Jesus to go through Samaria had much more to it than met the eye. In fact, for Him to sit at the well and to ask for water from a Samaritan woman is taking us into a drama, a theatre filled with tension and bottled up dynamics.


 

The woman was perhaps a widow or divorced or at the time not recognized as an upstanding character, someone about people probably loved to gossip and who were looked down upon. En waar ons daarvan hou om so lekker te skinder, die ou bekkies so te laat klap en reg te staan met ons stokke om te straf en te veroordeel, wys Jesus ons iets anders. Sy stok is nie daar om te straf, en te slaan en te veroordeel nie; Sy stok en Sy staf is daar om te vertroos. Gaan lees maar weer Psalm 23. U stok en U staf, die vertroos my.


 

Jesus starts the conversation and sets the tone of the story. He was not supposed to talk to her. As a man and as a Jew, and more so as a Jewish rabbi He was breaking the rules and customs. The Samaritan woman on the other hand stays calm, Jesus is not forcing her. It also shows that whatever the town was saying about her, she was not intimidated and she was not going to let that define her. Even when Jesus showed that He knew about her past it did not faze her or scare her.


 

"Hulle praat helder oordag, in 'n openbare plek terwyl sy en Jesus bewus is van die tradisie, die reëls en taboes wat die gedrag van mans en vroue bepaal. Jesus het hier 'n punt om te maak. Dit, eerder as 'n gevoel van skaamte en vrees om nie in ander se geselskap te wees nie,...is die rede vir haar teenwoordigheid by die put...".


 

"Jesus moes deur Samaria gaan; die vrou uit Sigar moes kom water haal op daardie uur.."


 

That Jesus talks to her so openly, is a public trangression of the rules and at the same time a public criticism of the rules. A man and a rabbi like Jesus was not supposed to talk to a woman. Women were not counted at all, they had to sit in a special place in the synagogue. In the first century there was a Jewish prayer that went like this:


 

"Blessed are Though, o Lord, who did not make me a woman or a heathen."


 

The feeling against women was quite strong..


 

One rabbi stated it like this: "Let the door of your house be open wide, and let the poor and the needy be seen as your family, …and do not talk to women at all." Today we may laugh about this and find it ridiculous. However, you know and I know how young men still cling to this absolutely stupid belief that they can treat women like dirt, violate them and even violently assaulting them. Ons het twee dogters en ek sê vir julle meisies en selfs volwasse vrouens: moenie dat hy op jou trap nie, jy is nie sy vloerlap nie. As hy sy hand vir jou lig, skop hom uit. Ek weet dis nie altyd so maklik nie, maar maak daarop aanspraak dat jy met liefde en waardigheid behandel word. Daar's baie visse in die see. En aan die broeders, julle hoef mos nie soos varke aan te gaan nie. Jy het geen reg om jou hand vir 'n vrou te lig nie. Wees lief vir haar, versorg haar en wys aan jou vriende hoe dit gedoen word. Breek die siklusse waarin ons gemeenskappe so vasgevang word. Dis baie maklik: plaas jou vrou, plaas jou meisie eerste in jou lewe. Dis hoe die Here dit wil hê.


 

Jesus kom en vat die gesprek nog 'n stap verder, dieper en hoër. Dit gaan nie net oor die verskille tussen Jode en Samaritane nie, dit gaan ook nie net oor mans en vroue en stupid gewoontes nie. Jesus wil haar as persoon aanspreek. Hy wil haar anders laat kyk na haarself, anders as net 'n Samaritaan en anders as bloot net 'n vrou.

Jesus doen hier twee dinge:

1. Hy deurbreek die simpele ou reëls en praktyke wat die Jode aan gebede en God se genade gekoppel het. Die etniese-nasionale engheid van ek is 'n Jood en jy 'n Samaritaan, ek is 'n African en jy bruin, ek is wit en jy nie. Hy breek daardeur en bring ons helder en duidelik by Johannes 3:16

"Want so lief het God die wêreld gehad (nie net die Jode of die Samaritane nie, of die wittes of die swartes of die bruines nie? So lief het God die wêreld gehad.) dat Hy Sy eniggebore Seun gegee het, sodat elkeen wat in Hom glo, nie verlore mag gaan nie, maar die ewige lewe kan hê."


 

2. In die tweede plek wil Jesus "die terreur van die verslawende, fatale tradisies en taboes wat die verhouding tussen mans en vrouens bepaal, aan die kaak stel, omkeer en tot niet maak." Die vrou word dus geplaas in die bevrydende ruimte van die koninkryk van God, beide as vrou en ook as Samaritaan. Liewe susters, al sê die mense wát, my suster, Jesus het jou herstel in jou vrouwees, Jesus maak jou vry, al sê die mense wat. En dieselfde geld vir die mans: die gedagte dat Adam eerste geskape is en dat mans daarom altyd voor vrouens moet wees, is werklik onsin. Laat ons dit uit ons gedagtes haal. En verder die gedagte dat Paulus gesê het dat die man die hoof van die huis is, is net sulke onsin. Paulus sê, die man is die hoof van die huis, "soos Christus die hoof van die kerk is." Dit gaan oor die woordjie "soos". Wees soos Christus wanneer jy met jou vrou omgaan. "Ek is swart soos die nag," verduidelik my vriendin uit Diepkloof my jare gelede, "ek is nie die nag nie."


 

En dan, my susters en broers, dan trek Jesus hierdie Samaritaanse vrou die koninkryk van God in. Hy maak 'n diepe teologiese waarheid aan haar bekend, Homself en die die "gawe van God".

"As jy die gawe van God geken het en geweet het wie Hy is wat vir jou sê: Gee vir my water om te drink, sou jy Hom gevra het en Hy sou vir jou lewende water gegee het."


 

Sy is verward en wil nie te voorbarig wees nie, maar sy vra Hom oor sy skepding. Hy het dan nie eers 'n skepding nie en sy kan Hom nie haar skepding gee nie want die Samaritane word as onrein gesien deur die Jode. En buitendien, die put is diep; waarvandaan kry U dan die lewende water?


 

It is then sisters and brothers, that Jesus speaks to her, with the clarity of mind and message in a way that has kept us spell-bound to the Word of the Lord for ages. Please go and read this message at home over and over again, make it part of your body and of your life. Let it flow inside of you, nourish you and give you strength. To you and your family, to you as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as a lover and as a friend. Become part of the Kingdom of God, yes you will fall and backslide, but yes too, you will stand up and rise up in the name of Jesus. The name that breaks down all barriers, all sin and that brings forgiveness and strength.


 

"Jesus antwoord en sê vir haar: Elkeen wat van hierdie water drink, sal weer dors kry;

maar elkeen wat drink van die water wat Ek hom (en haar) sal gee, sal in ewigheid nooit dors kry nie, maar die wat Ek hom (en haar) sal gee sal in hom (en haar) word 'n fontein van water wat opspring tot in die ewige lewe."


 

En dan wanneer Jesus Hom aan haar openbaar as die Christus en die Messias, daag die dissipels op. Die Bybel sê, hulle was verwonderd dat Hy met 'n vrou in gesprek was. Ook hulle, ten spyte van die feit dat hulle so na aan Jesus was, was ook nog mans met geknelde idees oor vrouens, en tog, sê Johannes 4:27 het niemand gevra, waarom spreek U met haar nie.


 

Dit is dan wat hierdie Samaritaanse vrou uit Sigar, 'n vrou sonder naam, opstaan en na haar mense gaan, hulle van Jesus vertel en hulle het uit die stad na Jesus toe gegaan. Jesus wie maar net "deur Samaria" moes gaan, het twee dae by die Samaritane gebly en hulle het in Hom geglo.


 

  1. Conclusion

Sisters and brothers what makes us different than dogs and cats and mice and flies? We have bodies, they have bodies, we have minds and they have minds. But God has given us one thing that makes us different and that is our ability to choose between right and wrong.

You do not need to follow the pack, to follow the group and what they think is right you have the power to choose, to make your own choices. That is what the Bible is all about: the power to choose.

Let us choose to drink from the water that Jesus gives us; water that will never thirst us, "water that shall be in us a well of water springing up into everlasting life."


 

Amen.