Third Sunday in Lent- Deacon Gill- March 19, 2017

Lent 3

March 19, 2017

Woman at the wellToday we hear of a Samaritan woman going to draw water from the community well. Here in the USA we take water coming out of a tap, for granted. Women collecting water for their families, from a well, is a very common everyday occurrence in many parts of the world. Jesus uses water in this story in a different way. He uses it as a metaphor because we understand the necessity of water. Today’s reading is remarkable for many reasons not least that we learn so much about who Jesus is and what he wants of us.

Water is at the center of our lives. We are born out of it. We are sustained by it. We drink it. We swim in it. We wash in it. Sometimes the power of water is mighty, sometimes gentle, but it is always mysterious. It extinguishes fire and generates electricity. In its gentle flow, it cleanses and heals.

Both the woman and Jesus thirst for water deep down and He thirsts for the faith of this woman.

Jesus is sitting by the well after he sends his disciples into the city for food, and this woman walks up. Here is a Samaritan, a race of people that the Jews find repugnant. Some Jews regarded the Samaritans as foreigners and their attitude towards them was often hostile. Even though they shared most beliefs the two communities drifted apart  because of a major disagreement. Mount Gerizim, is the sacred mountain of the Samaritans. They believe it was the place where Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac and that their mount is more important than that of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.  Today there continues to be a Samaritan settlement on the West Bank

But back to the gospel reading. Jesus boldly breaks down the dividing wall and asks for aid from an alien woman. The woman was an outcast and was looked down upon even by her own people. Collecting water is traditionally women’s work and most of the women go to the well early in the morning to get the water they needed for the day. They do not go there in the heat of the day.  It’s a job for the morning or evening when it’s cool. Maybe the woman came to draw water at noon in order to avoid nasty looks or comments from the other women, as she had had five husbands and currently was living with a man who was not her husband. It is normal for women gather at the well to talk and to socialize.  It is a time for meeting but she is a nobody. We are not even told her name.

What do you think Jesus sees when she walks up? Most Jewish men of his day would have seen a woman, of doubtful moral character, who, even worse, was a Samaritan. To others their  first thought may have been to ignore her. But no, Jesus engages her in conversation. They connect. He opens the conversation by asking her for a drink; a very down-to-earth, everyday sort of place to begin. This takes the woman by surprise. “ How is it that you a Jew, ask  a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?”

So what does Jesus see? He sees a woman in great need. He sees an opportunity to share the gospel. Then just as now every opportunity to share the gospel must be taken.  It is for every person, no matter what their race, social position or past sins. Jesus gives an extraordinary message about fresh and pure water that would quench her spiritual  thirst forever. So here’s Jesus, talking to this Samaritan woman and offering her the living water that Isaiah was talking about all those years before, living water that’s for all people, even for Samaritan women. And so the woman responds: “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Jesus talks with compassion and tenderness as he says the living water he gives will quench her thirst forever.

Do you  yourself look at a stranger or even a friend or neighbor and wonder if they are good prospects for hearing the gospel? Do they look like promising material to listen and hear, or do you save your energy for someone else and instead just discuss the weather? Well, one of the amazing things about the gospel is that all sorts of people are touched by it, in totally unpredictable ways.

The woman comes to the recognition that she is talking to the Messiah.  When the woman understands that the man she is talking to is the Messiah, she wants to know more and wants to know the right place of worship, Mount Gerazim or Jerusalem. Jesus says “ Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” The woman said to him, “I know that the 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.” And with that she became a true believer, a convert. So never pass up an opportunity to share the gospel with others. You never know who will respond until you try.

Jesus’ ministering to those outcasts of the Jewish society, the Samaritans, reveals that all people are valuable to God and that Jesus desires that we demonstrate love to everyone,  even our enemies. Invite and welcome.

We also learn that our testimony about Jesus is a powerful tool in leading others to believe in Him: “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more became believers because of his word. Conversion snowballed. Invite and welcome.

New beginnings may be frightening because they involve leaving the old self behind. They call us from our familiar, comfortable world into a strange, unfamiliar one. Sometimes we may feel isolated, alien, alone, unsupported as we embark on a new venture, a new relationship. We cannot see where our beginnings will take us.

Lent is a time for a new beginning. We reconsider its baptismal beginning and rededicate ourselves to a continuing conversion. We are called again to enter into the death-resurrection process. We do not know where this new beginning will take us, but together we enter into a journey from ashes to Easter. Invite and welcome others to join you. As Jesus said “I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor”

If the woman at the well sees herself as a nobody does she feel humiliated? Does she represent a nobody who we may ignore? Does she express worry at the thought of a new beginning? On the contrary, Jesus engages her in conversation and spends time in her village. The woman is a newcomer to faith and Jesus patiently walks with her until she is confident.  Do we recognize strangers who come to the well to drink? Do we recognize the face of Christ in a stranger? Seekers who come to our church wanting to know more about this man named Jesus will be embraced and guided on their faith journey.

Jesus shows that he welcomes people who are starting out on their faith journey. He patiently explains to the woman who listens and patently thirsts for knowledge. Jesus responds that God has chosen to dwell among us and reveals himself in the I AM statement.

To me this is one of the most complete stories in the Bible. Put yourself in the place of the woman; she has baggage, she is prepared to listen, she is hearing, she is questioning and deep down she is seeking. She is excited and she wants to share with others. She is healed. Jesus did not reject the woman as not being worthy, he is not judgmental  and she did not reject  his message but wanted to share with others.

Learn from her and go out and share the Good News to all who will listen that Jesus is the living water and with him you will never thirst.   Anyone who has experienced a flood knows that water seeps into nooks and crannies that you never knew were there. That is how Jesus is. He is a part of our lives in ways that we may not see. Tell people about Jesus. Invite and welcome them.

Service Schedule

Sunday Services
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite I
9:15 a.m. Christian Formation
10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite II

Weekday Services
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist


St. Paul's Episcopal Church
5373 Franz Rd
Katy, Texas 77493
(281) 391-2785

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