Grace and peace to you as we, people of faith, journey throughout this season of Lent, towards the one whom God, Our Creator has sent, Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
What fills you up when the reality of this life drains you empty?
(Pause, then step from the pulpit down to where the baptismal bowl/font is and reveal the bare bowl with only the stones placed in the bottom. Begin introduction about talking how wandering in green spaces has always recharged me and most often I could only get filled up at my camp in Oregon, IL. Point out about Austin’s well known secret: the ability to visit all of the green spaces especially the nature preserves, nature wildlife refuges and other areas that are great for hiking and exploring. Point out that along our walks that we have observed many, many dry creek beds which have saddened our hearts because without the life flowing waters, Creation is interrupted. Also point out that without water, feeding the foundation of the Earth-plants can not thrive, flowers of every fragile beauty fail to bloom, and creatures big and small can not come to refresh themselves, refilling those places within which cry out for thirst. In other words Creation itself is stifled. Pause, returning back to the pulpit but pause on the stairs and then ask the question again).
What fills us up when the reality of this life drains us empty?
It’s impossible to answer that when we find ourselves waiting for relief as our loved ones lay in a hospital bed, hoping that this final surgery, that this new procedure, that this new medical drug will break the dam of sickness and illness, flooding over everyone healing.
It’s impossible to answer that when we find ourselves pacing slick tile or ceramic floors outside of a foreboding courtroom hoping that a childhood friend who was so important in our lives or that well known neighbor who lived down the street will find a waterfall of grace inside those doors or that justice will roll down as pristine waters for those whose wounds are hurting.
It’s impossible to answer that when we find ourselves holding the hands of a good friend or fellow peers, colleagues whose own riverbed is starkly absent of anything resembling water because the prospects of a new position or job or employment has been reduced to a landscape of drought.
It is impossible to answer that especially if with each passing morning there is no relief from the thirst or the heat of worry that beats down upon those family members endlessly floundering in a hotel room, enduring the pain of not knowing where their loved ones are or if the vast, mysterious ocean will ever give up its secrets.
And so is it any wonder, that we as people of faith hear our own voice echoed in the Samaritan woman’s as she pleads in our Gospel text this morning “Sir give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Have we answered the question of what fills us up when the reality of life drains us dry? As people of faith, perhaps we believe that the answer is easily found within church walls, nestled in church community, right? Isn’t this where the living water is supposed to flow nestled securely in the baptismal font? But what happens when the wells run dry, when life in the church comes to a complete standstill because people of faith cause climate chaos; when our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ unknowingly divert what the true meaning of the Good News of Jesus Christ can mean in the lives of someone who particularly needs to hear it today:
Someone who is marginalized for who they are or what they represent:
Whether that is as a woman
A person of color
A person with physical ailments
A person with social difficulties
A person whose differences rile up the uncomfortableness within who we are
A person who is unrecognizable, unnoticeable or forgettable because they are perceived not to have anything to offer.
And this is where we find our sister, our neighbor and this familiar story of the Woman at the Well.
This Samaritan woman who has been trivialized and demoralized and accused of ruminating in polluted waters-
Is whom Jesus chooses to reveal this living, healing water.
This Samaritan woman who is nameless, nondescript, a nobody
Is whom Jesus begins to pour out this living water because of what dwells within her
I find myself almost jealous at the child-like abandonment of this Samaritan woman because it is not because of some earth shattering, fire blazing conversion or some fantastic revelations or even whispers of who this Son of God carried on fine mists if dew that seemingly clings to everything and what He has the power to do, through the Holy Spirit that brings this Samaritan woman to the well and into His presence.
But it is because of what already resides within her spirit
The seeds of her Faith that already are budding, struggling to stretch and meet the healing power of the sun, burrowed within her soul, the richness of the soil that the Creator has created this woman of Faith. Do we find ourselves astounded that she, then unfettered by convention of who she is and questionable status and appearance to the rest of the judging, outside world, immediately runs back to her community sharing this Good News!
“Come and see a man who has told me everything I have ever done!”
Why would that be good news?
What would possess to want to expose the “imperfect, hidden” us and how rocky our journey has not flowed so fluidly or traveled in crystal clear, pure waters perhaps as we may have claimed?
That teeming within our waters are the microscopic germs of our suspicions and dread, of practically every situation and those whose streams we must cross.
How that these pools simmering within our very being, under scrutiny are questionable and tainted as our experiences throughout this life unfortunately renders it grainy and murky.
That the formation of who we are as distinct rivers and how we thrived and survived are slowly drained because of what we allow to access and hungrily devours of the essential part of what was lovingly poured into us, this precious living water from God Our Creator.
“Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever done!”
Listen to this Samaritan woman proclaim Good News!
Come and see this man, this Son of God who knows of our beginnings, who has seen the paths we have traveled, who knows everything we have ever done…
And Loves Us Anyway
That is Good News.
The Good News is that Jesus Christ, Our Savior is only concerned with the fact that the water of this world which overflows and floods in abundance cannot heal any barren places that are reside within who we are and so Jesus proclaims “those who drink of the water that I give them will never be thirsty.”
Have you noticed that Jesus Christ NEVER mentions the Samaritan Woman’s sins, her shortcomings, her faults?
How has it been all of this time that her story seems to be surrounding these so called sins?
The Good News of Jesus Christ is that because as God Our Healer travels and journeys throughout Creation, walking pathways where it is painfully obvious of what this world and its destructive power has done to who we are as God’s Children; that God sees each one of us as gentle, rushing streams and sometimes as riverbeds devoid of life affirming, life fulfilling, life giving eternal water…
and so God sends His Son, Jesus Christ who poured out of Himself upon the Cross as a sacrifice to revive, renew, replenish and restore all of God’s Creation, all of us as sisters and brothers in Christ and in Faith; to cause our hearts to overflow in those dry places with the Living Water that is Jesus Christ.
Because God has the power to cleanse and renew the stagnant places within our lives and along our journey, this Living Water rushes and seeps, connecting eternal life to our lives.
Jesus Christ is this Living Water that flows freely into who we are, not because we are perfect
Not because we have knowledge
But because WE HAVE FAITH
Even if that Faith is as small as a mustard seed
Or as fragile as a rain drop.
(Pause, go back to the baptismal font and slowly pour it with water from the pitcher)
Here is the answer to our question: Here is where we come to be reminded and fulfilled and refreshed when this life overwhelms us, stinging our eyes and filling our mouths with choking, debilitating dust.
Is there someone who if you asked the question, what fills you up when this life seemingly drains you dry? Is there a Samaritan woman in your own life who freely proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ, who testifies “Come and see a man who has told me everything I have ever done?
(Pause then tell story of the Samaritan woman in my own life, the example of my Mother who bore many stigmas of not only who she was as a woman of color, but being a single mother and raising three daughters through difficulties and bearing the burden of battling breast cancer that sometimes left her void of anything but a husk and a shell of a person. But throughout this journey she remained deep in her faith, and found the strength and the call to share this Good News with others, that God is indeed never absent from our lives but present and because God sees that we endure many twists and turns, that we suffer through hardships and sorrow, that through this life giving water there is hope and sometimes we even as those tiny, smooth stones can too be refreshed through the power of Jesus Christ, the Living Water.)
Thanks Be To God.