Toorak Uniting Church

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Jesus Didn’t Have a Bucket

Rev. Ken Gilson
John 4: 5 – 42
27 March 2011

I like tools. I enjoy working with good tools and seeing a job well done.
I like to carry a tool kit where ever I go. The gift of a leather man makes this possible even on a days outing. I like to carry a tool kit so that I can be prepared to fix whatever comes along I never know what will need to be done.

One thing I have learned over the years that I like to be useful; It makes me feel good.
But I have also discovered that there are times when what I think will be useful to do for others is seen by them as an intrusion on their privacy.
A third thing I have learned is that I don’t have to have all the answers at my fingertips.
It is more important to know where to find the answers and it may be better to let others do things for themselves than to do things for them.
Sometimes doing things for people is more about me feeling good than about how they might feel.

THIS REMINDS ME THAT ALL OF US WANT TO BE LOVED, WANTED, AND APPRECIATED FOR WHAT WE ARE. But often we do things hoping that it will make others like us. It’s like carrying things round in a bucket so that you can impress others. My bucket is full of tools. My ministry bucket is full of good ideas about faith and religion. There are times when I feel that I must have prepared answers to peoples’ questions. This is more about my own insecurity than truly meeting peoples’ true needs.


The woman at the well was no fool.
Jesus didn’t have a bucket. You need a bucket to carry water or you will spill it all.
Jesus didn’t have one. In the conversation with the woman Jesus didn’t go down the Samaritan - Jew track. There is no living water in sectarian debates.
And Jesus didn’t hide behind theological controversy or conversation.
What we really want for ourselves and for others is not the substitutes for intimacy but intimacy itself. We want living water. Not stagnant pools. And yet how frequently this happens. I suspect it happens because we have learned to be HELPFUL.
When what others want is for us to simply BE HERE FOR THEM.

I remember well the words of my Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor at The Austin Hospital. He said, The only thing that you can offer that will be of any help to those you visit on the wards is WHAT HAS BECOME PART OF WHO YOU ARE.
You can take your bible and the fancy phrases you have learned and the stories of other peoples lives, but if they have not become part of you, they are just so much baggage that will weigh you and others down.

We don’t need to travel with buckets of things. Jesus didn’t.
God says to each one of us in the scripture, "I have called you by your name you are mine" God wants us as we are.


When the real me meets with the real you, we are both affirmed. We discover a life giving force that wells up within us.
Jesus comes to the woman with nothing but himself. He talks with her as one person to another. He allow her to be herself. It really didn’t matter what her past was, or her present associations, or what particular faith she espoused. Jesus related to her as someone who could meet his need, if she chose to. He was simply thirsty.

This is the way, God, through Jesus, relate to us. What we have done in the past or are doing now, what we have achieved or have failed to achieve, How well we understand our faith or not, Is of little consequence to God. God relates to us as the people we are and asks us to respond if we choose or not.

Over the years the words of the psalmist worried me at first Psalm 44:22
"God knows the secrets of the heart" My Methodist up bringing taught me that I should be seeking perfection in all that I did. I understood this to mean that I should try to be a better person. So over the years I had felt guilty about many things, some real and other imagined. God knows the secrets of my heart. I’ve told God often. And I’ve supposed that’s what God wanted. But I suspect that God’s bored with it all.
For God forgave me the first time I asked for forgiveness.
God doesn’t want us to carry buckets full of guilt.

Another Bucket that Jesus didn’t carry was a special one, one that was invisible because he was divine. The blessing that the woman received was not due to a special divine gift packet. The blessing Jesus offered to the woman and offers to us, is that he treats us simply as another human being in need of loving acceptance.
As we accept others as they are we will find that we don’t become lesser people ourselves, in fact being open and honest with others helps them to be open and honest with themselves. It helps them and us to see ourselves as valuable and valued people. Nothing makes a person grow tall more than being accepted and loved.
The living water of God’s presence began to flow in the woman when she knew that another human being could know her as she was and love her in spite of what she or others thought of her because of her past.

Jesus had no bucket, He didn’t need one!
The greatest gift we can offer to another person is to love them.
That will release in them the living water that wells up in them to eternal life.

Jesus didn’t need a bucket.
We don’t need bucket either.
We don’t need substitutes for living water.
We need to be ourselves and to know that no matter what we do we are loved.
Praise be to God.
I invite you to listen to the words of a modern hymn. TiS 693 "Come us you are".

© Rev. Ken Gilson, 2011

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