John 7: 37-39 (NRSVA)
37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38 and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”’ 39 Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
The Atacama Desert in Chile is so dry that some parts of it have never recorded rainfall. Yet every five to seven years, rains cause the desert to bloom overnight with up to 200 different varieties of flowers. It is a striking image of the transformative and life-giving power of water. In the same way, this image which Jesus gives us of rivers of living water flowing out of us, is a striking image of the life-giving power of the Spirit. The Spirit flooding out of us has the capacity to bring life to all around us. It has the capacity to cause love for God to bloom in the lives of others even when they seem dead and dry.
It is significant that the metaphor Jesus uses is of a river. A river has direction, and movement, and power. The water of a river is fresh and life-giving because it is constantly moving. Jesus has told us that rivers of living water will well up within us and flow from us. What a powerful metaphor – water pouring out of us and cleansing and bringing life to all before us. But are we allowing those rivers to flow? Or do we sometimes try to stop the flow, attempt to dam it up? What power is available to us if we allow it to work in us and through us!
Father thank you for your gift of the Spirit
which flows endlessly into us and through us
out into a thirsty world.
Help us to allow those rivers of living water
to well up inside us,
not only to cleanse us
but to flow to others,
in power and love,
that they too may drink of that life-giving stream, Amen.