Sunday March 15, 2020
Dear Members and Friends,
It feels strange to wake up this morning and not follow my usual Sunday morning routine. I typically rise early enough to review the service and my sermon while enjoying a hot cup of coffee. I typically arrive early to the church so I can print and fold the bulletins and arrange a few things in the sanctuary. But today is not a typical day, and none of us will be following typical schedules.
I wonder if the Samaritan woman from our Scripture for today felt the same way? It had all begun as a typical day…
So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common 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 no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?"
Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life."
The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water."
Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come back."
The woman answered him, "I have no husband."
Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!"
The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem."
Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us."
Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."
Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, "What do you want?" or, "Why are you speaking with her?" Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, "Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”
It had started like any other day. Rising early she had gone to the well to get water for cooking and cleaning and drinking. On that day, however, a stranger sat near the well and watched her. It was a bit unnerving, but she knew how to deal with men so she wasn’t afraid, just cautious and ready to defend herself if need be.
For a Jewish man he was unusually direct with her. And the more he talked the more intriguing it became. He asked for a drink of water, but then offered her the same. He spoke of living water becoming a spring within the one who drank it; watering their dry hearts and creating life, even life beyond death.
Oh how she longed for that kind of water. Her life had been filled with so much change. So much loss. She had lost five husbands and did not know how she would survive as a woman on her own in a land that did not value her. The chaos and fear that filled her days had broken her down and left her longing for something more.
And then Jesus showed up and turned everything upside down. He not only disregarded the taboo of talking to a Samaritan, but he disregarded the cultural restrictions between men and women, and openly spoke to her as he would have spoken to another man. But even more importantly, Jesus offered her something she never even knew she could have. He offered her a real connection to God. He told her that the Eternal Spirit is available to all those who seek truth; all those who thirst for meaning and peace in their lives.
She never thought her life would take the turn that it had. After that encounter by the well every day was filled with opportunities to teach and care for those in need. Now that she understood that God was not just available to those who worshipped at certain places, but to anyone who worshipped with true hearts, her life was drastically different. She was happy to share openly and freely about the experience she had had with anyone who would listen to her, and many came to believe because of her words.
Today we put our energy into seeking open hearts and loving spirits.
We acknowledge that, like the Samaritan woman,
our lives can become consumed
by the losses we endure
and the chaos of the world around us.
Remind us of your love that flows
like an endless living water.
Help us recall that dry and fearful hearts
find newness of life in You;
"a spring of water gushing up to eternal life!"
Turn our lives upside down
as we seek truth through our connection with You.
Give us opportunities to teach and care for one another
as we quench our thirst for meaning and peace
with the presence of Your Spirit.
For those who would like a little music, Maya Finston-Fox and I recorded this hymn for you.
I hope you'll sing along. It makes me smile to think of each of you gathered in your own homes singing with us!
Blessings and love to you all,
Your pastor -
The Rev. Patty Fox