Lent 3A, March 23, 2014
Lessons: John 4:5-42
I thought long and hard about what to preach about when looking at these lessons; there were lots of directions I could have taken the sermon. But I wound up preaching about water. Why water?
Water is something familiar to us all, and there was something about water that showed up in all of the lessons for this particular Sunday.
I started off by talking about water and how important it is for all of us and our survival, and some of the systems we have in place to ensure we have a steady supply of water. I wanted to share some history of how we have obtained water – and in particular wanted to mention some things that many of those in the congregation might be familiar with from their own life experiences. For example, there was a time in our own not-too-distant past when getting drinking water from a well with a bucket was the norm in a household. Drawing water wasn’t something people just did in ancient times.
I wanted to emphasize that turning on a tap these days with a flick of the wrist and hardly any thought may result in our taking clean, safe water for granted. But there are still many people in the world for whom getting a safe supply of water is a major and necessary chore that takes up a good part of the day. Obtaining that water requires health, strength, and intention.
And so we come to the story of the Samaritan woman who comes to the community well, where she encounters a most interesting fellow, who just happens to be Jesus. And she winds up having a brief, but very significant conversation. She hears about a kind of water that this stranger, Jesus, can offer that would not require a lot of work to obtain.
But she is thinking H2O, and so what Jesus has to say about water piques her interest. What a different world it could be for this woman if her day did not have to include a trip to Jacob’s well. Although she did not understand what Jesus was telling her about living water, she understood enough of the conversation to be intrigued. Could this man be the Messiah? So she told her neighbors and friends about him.
These neighbors and friends naturally wanted to see and hear for themselves the things Jesus had to say. And they did. As a result many of them believed Jesus was the Messiah.
What I tried to emphasize in this sermon were the following things:
· Jesus, himself, shared the Good News with Gentiles.
· Paul’s mission was to carry the Good News to Gentiles throughout the Mediterranean region. He taught that being right with God did not require us to seek perfection through following a complex set of laws. We receive God’s grace through faith.
· The message of the story of the woman at the well is that faith centers on belief, even when we don’t always understand everything we hearing or reading. Faith means believing in things for which we don’t necessarily have all of the facts.
· Regardless of our understanding, we can share our thoughts and our questions with one another. Faith grows that way.
· People need water to nourish our bodies, but there is another kind of water we need, too. This water provides nourishment for our souls. We thirst for both kinds of water.