30 March: Revd Richard Pennystan

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,  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.’

John 7:37-38

A reflection from Revd Richard Pennystan, St Chad Romiley

Sukkot, the festival of booths is a major Jewish festival in which Jewish people leave their homes for 7 days and camp in booths, with leaves for roofs (Lev 23 & Deut 16).  It is a festival saturated in symbolism: harvest, trusting, wilderness, living temporarily, and open heaven.  The Rabbis link each of the 4 types of leaves used in the booths to gratitude for rain, and on the final day, Ezekiel 47 is read and the people ask God for rain. 

It is a festival of justice and joy, everyone is included, and crowds camping creates connections.  Jesus travels to Jerusalem incognito during the festival, but the crowd's buzz is around his identity and the religious leaders’ desire to silence him.  He breaks his cover and on the final day makes this bold public declaration, pointing to himself as the source of living water, on the very day they are asking God for rain. 

Through John’s gospel, Jesus uses day-to-day images to describe himself: bread, gate, light and here he chooses water.  Water is essential to life, civilisations are built around it, wars have been fought over it, harvests depend on it.  I visited Israel In 1998, my primary memory was how irrigation shaped the landscape and sociology of Israel.  The absence of rain leads to poverty and displacement.  Water is a gift of God we are to treasure, the prophets call us to look to him gratefully as the source of life for his provision.  We don’t feel the need to ask God for rain in the North West of England, but in Israel, they were dependent upon him for it.

Ezekiel’s vision is water flowing from the temple, bringing life, restoration, and healing everywhere it goes.

Jesus’ vision is a people, who are both refreshed through a relationship with him and bringing life and restoration wherever we go.  This past year we have had to find new ways to both remain rooted in Jesus and to take his water of life to those around us.  What we have seen this past year in Romiley is that the small amount of living water we share with others goes a long way in such thirsty ground.  

What thirsts do you have right now, which only Jesus can refresh.  And what ways can living water flow from your heart to those who are thirsty around you?

A prayer

Lord Jesus,

source of life, I come to you thirsty and trusting today.  Renew and refresh me, so that I may share your living water with those around me who need you so greatly


Revd Richard Pennystan ,
St Chad Romiley



Information Point

Please bookmark the Diocese of Chester Environment web page.  Here you will find new information as it becomes available.

Diocese of Chester | Environment (anglican.org)


Page last updated: 15th February 2021 4:21 PM