• Call to Worship – Rev. Val & Congregation
  • Opening Prayer – Rev. Val & Congregation
  • Gloria Patri (UMH 70)
  • Hymn: God We Sense Your Peace and Power
  • Pastoral Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Peace Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Peace Hymn: Let There Be Peace On Earth (UMH 431)
  • Scripture Readings – Rev. Val
  • Message: I Am Thirsty – Rev. Val
  • Service of Holy Communion
  • Hymn: For the Bread Which You Have Broken (UMH 614)
  • Offertory Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Doxology (UMH 95)
  • Benediction – Rev. Val


Open the eyes of our understanding and prepare our hearts by the power of Your Spirit, that we may receive Your scriptures with much joy and rejoicing and may leave today having a deeper understanding of who You are and who You would have us to be.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

John 4:7-15 (ESV) – A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

John 13:31-35 (ESV) – When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 19:28-29 (NRSV) – After this, when Jesus knew that all was no finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.

The scriptures of God for the People of God.

Thanks be to God.

MESSAGE – Into Your Hands

Parts of this message are adapted or cited directly from “Seven Words: Listening to Christ from the Cross,” by Susan Robb (Abingdon Press, ISBN: 978-1 7910-0781-2). All other citations are included in the transcript.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. Amen.

Think about Jesus’ words … “I am thirsty.” How could the source of Living Water be thirsty? How can God Incarnate possibly be thirsty?

In part, it’s because even though he was God Incarnate, he was also fully human. It was mid-afternoon in Judea. The sun was beating down on him. He’d been beaten, he’d been forced to carry a heavy cross nearly a half mile, he’d been nailed to the cross, he’d been taunted and tortured. Of course he was thirsty.

Think about the words he’d already spoken … he’d asked God to forgive us, he’d shown by his words to the thief that salvation didn’t require action, only belief and a changed heart. Those are things the divine Jesus would think to do, right? But then his full humanity surfaced. He was really, really human when he cried out, asking God why he’d been forsaken. And then, back to the divine Jesus we know, he made sure his mom and best friend had one another. And now, his humanity is showing once again. He’s thirsty. He wants water. The Living Water needs water.

Which makes sense based on his humanity and the circumstances, but doesn’t make sense because he’s God Incarnate. He’s the source of the Living Water. He’s the artesian spring of the only water that fully satisfies.

The word spirit in Greek is pneuma, which can also mean wind or breath. John’s Gospel consistently draws attention to the work of God’s Spirit. On Jesus’s last night with his disciples, he tells them that, while he can no longer remain with them, the Spirit will come abide with them forever (John 4:16). When he reappears to them after his resurrection, he breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). And because John began his Gospel with a reference to what happens “in the beginning,” he wants us to make a connection to the Creation story, when God breathed life into Adam; now, God through Jesus is breathing a new kind of life into his followers.

On the other hand, John describes the coming of the Holy Spirit in a less dramatic but no less important way. In two places, Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit, his Spirit, as thirst-quenching, as a spring of living water that will never run dry and that bubbles up to abundant and eternal life (John 7:37-39; 4:10, 13-14).

When Jesus first uses this metaphor to describe himself, it is at a water well in Samaria, near the village of Sychar (John 4:5-6). While his disciples go into town to buy food, Jesus remains behind, and he meets a Samaritan woman … our passage from today tells that story.

Later, Jesus participates in the festival of Tabernacles … a festival that commemorates the wanderings of the children of Israel in the wilderness. The festival, also known as the Feast of Booths or Sukkot, was originally a harvest festival that eventually became associated with the hope for a time when God’s life-giving presence would flow out in rivers from the Temple (Ezekiel 47:12), like water from the rock in the wilderness (Exodus 17:1-7). As part of the festival, the priest would pour fresh water on the altar as an offering to God, a remembrance of how God provided water for the Israelites in the desert. At this point in the festival, according to John, Jesus cried out: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink,” then paraphrased the scripture: “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-39).

In the passage from Isaiah, God offered Israel this abundant life. Jesus, the Word made flesh, came among us to do the same. The breath and Spirit of God are active in the Old Testament and the New. People in Jesus’ time on earth were … just like people in the Old Testament and people today are … thirsty.

We all are. We all thirst for justice and righteousness to flow down like rivers. We thirst for Jesus to come back … for the Messiah. We thirst for freedom from oppression. We thirst to be valued. We thirst for all these things, none of which leaders and politicians have been able … or for that matter … seem to want to satisfy.

And there’s a world of distractions out there. We are consumed by consumerism. Advertisers are leading us to try to quench our thirst with slick marketing suggesting their products will satisfy us. “If you love her, this diamond will prove it … Happiness can be found in this car, this diet plan, this dress, this vacation, this cosmetic cream or procedure.” Even junk foods! You’ve seen the Snickers commercial that suggests eating one candy bar can tame the beast inside us and bring us back to our calm and peaceful selves. We are thirsty to be adored, thin, powerful, exciting, and young.

Think about the news we hear, the speeches by and messages on behalf of politicians and even some world leaders. They, too, are trying to tell us we’re thirsty for whatever deterrent to some false fear they’re selling and only they can stop it.

Sadly, none of those distractions truly satisfy us. In fact, they almost always leave us worse off than before because they are so fundamentally unsatisfying and, in some cases, dangerous. If you think about it, all those distractions are offering us is a branch on the end of which is a sponge wet with sour wine.

Sour wine. At the Wedding at Cana, Jesus turned water into wine … not just wine … but the best wine, the sweetest wine. And yet the wine they offered him on the cross, the cup he drinks in death, is sour.

Jesus may have been fully human, but he was confident and in control of the matters surrounding his death. Earlier in his ministry he said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep … I lay my life down in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. (John 10:, 17b-18a). He reinforces that earlier message when he is arrested. Even after praying that God take the cup from him, when Peter intervenes to try and save him from the guards, Jesus rebukes him and asks, “Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11)

The symbolism of John’s telling of that day on the cross is powerful and purposeful. John tells us that Jesus was sent to his death at noon on the day of Preparation for the Passover – the day and the time the Passover lambs were slaughtered (John 19:14-16). It’s not obvious to modern day Christians, mostly because the majority of us don’t celebrate the Jewish feast days, but those who would have read John’s Gospel at the time it was written would have understood and would have made an immediate connection between the hyssop branch that delivers the sour red wine to Jesus’s lips and his crucifixion on the day of the Preparation for Passover.

For Christians, God’s mightiest act of salvation occurred in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and we commemorate that act with joyous celebration each Easter. For Jews in Jesus’s day including Jesus and his family, God’s mightiest act of salvation was Passover, which commemorates God’s rescue of God’s people from slavery in Egypt. Remember that the final plague that God sent on the Egyptians, the one that would kill the first-born of every household. Remember that what saved the first-born of all the houses of Israel during that plague was painting their door sills with the blood of blemish free lambs. And what we often miss is that God told Moses to instruct the children of Israel to use a hyssop branch to paint the blood above their doors. John’s use of the hyssop branch as the branch that was used to pass the sponge full of sour wine to Jesus was to tie the two events together. Only this time, Jesus was the blemish-free lamb slaughtered and it was his spilled blood that brings salvation and frees us from bondage to our transgressions. While Passover lambs weren’t slaughtered for the forgiveness of sins but rather deliverance from death and slavery, Jesus just the night before his crucifixion spoke when he lifted the cup at that last Passover meal, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (Mark 14:24), and Matthew adds to that “for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Luke writes, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant of my blood” (Luke 22:20b).

On the day of his crucifixion, we hear Jesus’s words of physical pain, “I am thirsty.” Those who have ears to hear know that Jesus is spiritually thirsty because he has drunk the bitter cup of death, and the one who offers living water bubbling up to eternal life is parched, bone-dry. It has all been poured out for them – and for you.

We know the things we thirst for … the righteous things … but to know we are loved and valued: Isn’t that what all of us are most thirsty for in life? We know that children who receive no words of love, no physical touch, and little to no human interaction as infants are unable to develop and thrive cognitively, physically, emotionally.  To know love, to be loved, and to love others is our greatest need and purpose in life. And that was the very heart of Jesus ministry (John 13:34). And as he loved us, we are commanded to love one another.

Through his own Spirit, poured out for us and into us, we can relieve his thirst as we serve those who suffer: “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink” … “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:35b, 40b). By drinking deeply from the living water that Jesus offers, not only are we satisfied, but we are transformed and empower to be for others what Jesus is for us.

We all thirst for a less violent, more peaceful nation and world. We all hope that we become kinder, gentler, more patient, more like Jesus. We all hope that the world slows down a bit and becomes less frantic, less, tense, less prone to become volatile.

And we should all pray our cup is full of the sweet wine so that when we pour ourselves out upon the world, we can quench the thirst of others and, in doing so, find our own thirst relieved as well, that we are able to access the living water that will never leave us thirsty again, the water from a stream that flows into eternal life.

Jesus’s words, “I am thirsty,” are meant to be drunk in deeply, for the are filed with the sweetness of the meaning of his death … the promise of fulfillment and triumph. In giving of ourselves, we will find the greatest gift of all and in pouring ourselves out for others, we will find ourselves perpetually filled with the water that never leaves us thirsty again.

To quote Susan Robb, “Drink deeply. The world is thirsty, and we’ve been offered an abundance of Living Water.”  


  • All works cited within the text above.

Copyright Disclaimer: Under §107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for educational purposes. No copyright infringement is intended. All rights belong to their respective owners.


  • Call to Worship – Rev. Val & Congregation
  • Hymn: This Is Our Father’s World (UMH 144)
  • Opening Prayer – Congregation
  • Creed: A Modern Affirmation (UMH 885)
  • Gloria Patri (UMH 70)
  • Peace Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Peace Hymn: Behold a Broken World (UMH 426)
  • Scripture Readings – Rev. Val
  • Message: Living Among the Brambles – Rev. Val
  • Hymn: God of Grace and God of Glory (UMH 577)
  • Pastoral Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Hymn: For the Bread Which You Have Broken (UMH 614)
  • Service of Holy Communion
  • Offertory Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Doxology (UMH 95/Song Sheet)
  • Benediction – Rev. Val

In order to expedite posting the worship services here on our website, we are reducing the transcript to just the scripture readings and the message. The majority of the other content (minus the message) is available through our weekly digital/email bulletin (you can sign up on our Contact Us page).  Union Grove UMC began celebrating Holy Communion weekly as part of our regular worship service on July 17, 2022. You are encouraged to have bread and juice or wine available as you watch the service and to participate in communion just as if you are present with us.


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