3rd Sunday of Lent
March 19, 2017
John 4: 5-42 You can click on this link to read the text in Oremus Bible Browser.
I live in a tiny country. We are situated between two big powerful countries – Egypt and Assyria. One of them was always in control of the whole world, and when they were at war with each other, one of them or both of them, would stomp through our land, brutalizing our people and devastating our crops. Then one day Assyria was at war with us, and they tore down our Yahweh’s temple and led away our priests and government. We had nowhere to worship and no one to take care of our roads, our people, our country. My people were off the beaten track and so we were left behind. We had to learn to fend for ourselves. We built a new temple on Mt Gerizim, and we trained new priests, remembering all we could of our tradition. We treasured the past that was left to us – Jacob’s Well and whatever we found to treasure. We farmed and we worked to create a new government. We married whoever would help us make a new life, creating new family, new tradition. We became fierce and proud.
Nearly a hundred years later, the grandchildren of our leaders came back. They had become fierce, too. To hand on to your tradition in a foreign land is hard, and they concentrated on keeping the Laws of Yahweh and teaching their children to keep separate and pure. When they came back, they treated us like dogs, like foreigners in our own land. They hated our pride and our fierceness and they said our religion was not Jewish. They were so snobbish that they would not even cross our borders to get tp their northern territories, saying it would make them unclean. We gave as good as we got, making them fair game for robbers and kids with stones.
Then one day, as I came out for water, there was a Jewish man sitting at my well. He wasn’t snobbish or mean, he asked for a drink. I was the one with the bucket, the one with the power to say, “Get out of here, you snot!” I was the one who could have laughed at him, the way Jews always laugh at me. Instead I was curious. He tells me he has living water, and that if he gave me water I’d never be thirsty. Yeah, yeah, yeah. “That’d be great”, I said. “Then I’d never have come out here to the well.” But he was serious. He saw me. He knew all about me. He invited me to worship God as if where we were didn’t matter. I told him that we were waiting for the Messiah to call us all to worship together. He said that he was the Messiah. I couldn’t believe it! Here in my village! How could that be? I forgot about the water. I forgot about my jar. I ran to tell the others what I had seen and heard. If this is truly the Messiah, I wanted everyone to know. This man crossed all kinds of boundaries to meet me and invite me and my people to be part of a new world the Messiah was creating. The promises were coming true! To us. They all came out to hear, and we trusted everything he said about God and us. We have not been forgotten. God came to meet us, the Samaritans, and took the time to stay and talk with us. When the rabbi went away he left a whole village of believers.
And you. Has he come to be with you too? Has he looked into your life and seen everything about you? What boundaries has he crossed to meet you and claim you? Has he accepted you even though you never felt worthy? Has he invited you into a community with people who surprise you, and made you feel as if everything that kept you apart didn’t matter anymore? I hope so. It changed my life to meet Jesus. I was shy and hidden, and I became an evangelist. I wanted everyone to know what I knew. God loves without boundaries. God loves us no matter who we where we are, no matter our history.. God invites us all to be part of a new family. I’m sure you have a story too. Go and share it. The world is waiting to hear how Jesus’ love changed your life.