Summary: A sermon designed to meet the needs of seekers and nominal Christians looking for peace in their lives.
Task: To help listener’s unwrap God’s gift and make it their own.
Title: For all the Lees/Leighs of the world.
Text: John 4.10
Time: 12/24/05 CUMC; 12/24/08 AUMC
Lee, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and a self professed atheist was sitting at his desk on Christmas Eve. A slow news day he found himself reminiscing about the Delgado family that he had featured while writing a series of articles about Chicago’s neediest people a few days earlier. The Delgado’s were comprised of a grandmother named Perfecta and her two granddaughters, Jenny age 13 and her sister Lydia 11 years old.
He remembered how unprepared he was when he walked into their two room apartment on the west side of Chicago for the interview; bare halls and bare walls, no furniture, no rugs, nothing but a kitchen table and a handful of rice in the cupboards. He learned during the interview that Jenny and Lydia only had one short-sleeved dress apiece, plus a thin gray sweater that they shared. On cold days when the girls walked the half-mile to school, one of the girls would start with the sweater and then give it to the other at the halfway mark. It was all they had. Perfecta wanted more for her granddaughters and would gladly have worked, but her severe arthritis and age made work too difficult and painful.
Since it was a slow news day Lee decided to check out a car and drive to Chicago’s west side to check up on the Delgado’s. When Jenny opened the door he couldn’t believe what he saw! His article on the Delgado’s had touched the hearts of many subscribers who responded with furniture and appliances, rugs, dozens of coats, scarves and gloves. The girls wouldn’t have to share a sweater any longer. There was cartons and cartons and boxes of food everywhere. They had so much food that the cupboards and closets couldn’t contain it. Someone had even donated a Christmas tree, and under it were mounds of presents and thousands of dollars in cash!
Lee was astonished! But what astonished him the most was what he found Perfecta and her granddaughters doing. They were preparing to give most of it away. “Why would you give so much of this away?” Lee asked. Perfecta responded, “Our neighbors are still in need. We cannot have plenty while they have nothing. This is what Jesus would want us to do.” Lee was dumbfounded.
After regaining his composure he asked Perfecta another question. He wanted to know what she and the girls thought about the generosity that was shown to them. Again, Lee was not prepared for the answer. She said, “This is wonderful, this is very good.” “We did nothing to deserve this; it’s all a gift from God. But,” she added, “It is not his greatest gift, Lee. No, we celebrate that tomorrow. Jesus.”
Lee was speechless as he drove back to the office. In the quiet of his car he noted a couple of observations. He had plenty and along with it plenty of anxiety, while the Delgado’s despite their poverty had peace. Lee had everything and yet wanted more, but the Delgado’s had nothing and yet knew generosity. Lee had everything and yet his life was as bare as the Delgado’s apartment prior to the article running. And yet the Delgado’s who had nothing were filled with hope, contentment and had a spiritual certainty. Even though Lee had so much more than the Delgado’s he longed for what they had in their poverty.
My guess is there are many Lee’s in this world who would like to have what the Delgado’s had. If that’s you, then listen to the words Jesus spoke to someone like you when he said, “If you only knew the gift God has for you…(John 4.10, NLT). The complete verse from John 4.10 goes like this, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” (John 4.10, NLT).
Thirsty, Jesus stopped at a well to get a drink. About the same time a Samaritan woman arrived to fill her water jug for the house. The bible doesn’t tell us her name, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she spelled it “L-e-i-g-h.”
Jesus asked her for a drink and it startled her. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing because Jesus was a Jew, and she was a Samaritan. And it wasn’t politically correct or socially acceptable by either of their cultures to interact with the other. Glancing over her shoulder to make sure no one was watching she replied, “How can you ask me for a drink of water. Surely you know that Jews and Samaritans don’t ask of each other.” To which Jesus responded, “If you only knew who I was and, what I’m prepared to give you, you wouldn’t care what others think and you’d ask me for it. And I in turn, would gladly give it to you.”