I have perhaps a somewhat mundane question to ask you this morning. Now this may touch a nerve for some of you who really like going to a restaurant since it’s been so long since we have been able to do that … and because of that Covid 19 pandemic instigated break from restaurant going you may have to dig deep into the recesses of your memory … but then again, things are starting to open up somewhat now and so perhaps this really won’t be such a difficult question – maybe it will be like riding a bike and you won’t have to search too hard for an answer … I’m not really sure … so let’s get to the question …
Have you ever gone to a restaurant and when the server first comes to the table and asks if they can get you something to drink you say, “Just a glass of water, please.”?
Just a glass of water.
I know I’ve said it and I’ve heard lots of other people say it too.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with water. It’s really the word ‘just’ that I’m thinking about – JUST a glass of water.
We are very blessed to live in a country where one of our bountiful natural resources is water. We also live in a community that sits on the shore of a vast lake filled with water. And just north of us all across the Muskoka’s and Kawartha’s there are lots more lakes and rivers filled with water. We are dripping in the stuff. Maybe that’s why we add the word “JUST”.
Just a glass of water, please. The word “just” makes it sound somewhat inconsequential but water is significant; it is not only thirst-quenching, it’s life sustaining.
A while ago I told you that I really like the poems of the British-Canadian poet and writer Robert Service, especially the poems that arose out of his experiences during World War One as a stretcher bearer and ambulance driver with the Ambulance Corps of the American Red Cross.
One of those poems is called “Jean Desprez”. It is a long poem that tells a tragic story of the wolves of war, to use Services own words. Jean Desprez is a peasant boy in France whose village is invaded by the Prussian military. A wounded Zouave, that is, a member of the French infantry, is captured and about to be executed in the same manner as our Lord Jesus, by being crucified. The Zouave is nailed to the church door with bayonets. Yes, it is a horrible scene. And as did our Lord Jesus call out in thirst and was mocked with a sponge soaked in sour wine, so too, the Zouave begs for a drop of water and is mocked with an empty cup.
Then enters the bare foot peasant boy named Jean Desprez. I’ll let Robert Service’s words tell you what happened:
But mid the white-faced villagers who cowered in horror by,
Was one who saw the woeful sight, who heard the woeful cry:
“Water! One little drop, I beg! For love of Christ who died. . . .”
It was the little Jean Desprez who turned and stole aside;
It was the little bare-foot boy who came with cup abrim
And walked up to the dying man, and gave the drink to him.
And the words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Matthew come crashing through the years:
Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple — truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
Whoever welcomes a disciple whoever welcomes a prophet, whoever welcomes a righteous person, whoever gives even a cup of water …
And later in three nearly consecutive verses from the same Gospel from which we have read today we hear other words, words of invitation and words of hope, from the lips of Jesus …
“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34)
And what was it that those who are blessed do? Next, Jesus himself tells us
“I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” (Matthew 25:35)
How can we give Jesus something to drink? We move just a couple of verses further to hear Jesus say:
“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40)
Perhaps I will never again use the word “just” when I ask for a glass of water