SERMON TITLE: “Living Water: Weeping Water”
SERMON TEXT: John 11:17-44
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: August 29, 2021, at First UMC
Are you familiar with Doug Fabrizio and his RadioWest program that airs on Utah Public Radio? A couple weeks ago, he interviewed a Westminster College professor who’s an expert on the Great Salt Lake. During the interview, as Professor Bonnie Baxter was talking about the drought, she mentioned that she and colleague Jaimi Butler had written an “Obituary for Great Salt Lake.” I was so intrigued by what she said that I looked it up online and printed it out.
True to form, they wrote the obituary of the Great Salt Lake just like an obituary for a woman. It’s about three pages long, so I won’t read all of it to you. But it’s quite clever, and you might like to look it up and read it yourself. Here are some excerpts:
Great Salt Lake experienced her final glimmering sunset today, succumbing to a long struggle with chronic diversions exacerbated by climate change. She was born 13,000 years ago to Lake Bonneville . . . and the Holocene Epoch, who melted ice and evaporated water . . . During her life, Great Salt Lake underwent many surgeries and amputations. She suffered blockages in her circulatory system . . . which restricted the flow of her fluids . . . Ultimately, the thirst of a rapidly growing population upstream . . . prevented her from refilling . . . The combination of terminal dehydration and high fever caused her eventual demise . . .
[Great Salt Lake] was a committed volunteer for her local environment, spending her time absorbing heavy metals and balancing nutrients. Always an avid birdwatcher, Great Salt Lake earned a Ph.D. in ornithology, observing 338 bird species over thousands of years. She was an entrepreneur, supporting an array of businesses from brine shrimp harvesting to salt extraction . . . She supported Utah’s economy for many years, but we did not adequately fund her healthcare in time. Had we done so, we [might] not be mourning her death today. In lieu of flowers, conserve water . . . In keeping with her salty personality, [Great Salt Lake] requested that her admirers play the song “Another One Bites the Dust” at her memorial.1
After five weeks of talking about living water stories from the Gospel of John, today we have come to John 11 and the story of those who cried salty, wet tears at Lazarus’ death. Let’s see what we can learn from this biblical story of weeping water.