Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Third Sunday of Lent

This week's Scriptures are Exodus 17: 1-7 and John 4: 5-42.

I really hope that you're going to join us this Sunday for worship. I have become very excited about what I'm discovering as I study this story from John about Jesus' encounter with the "Woman at the Well." I think that it has a great deal to teach us about God's response to persons who have been isolated and scapegoated by the combination of their own behaviors and their culture's response to them. And I think it has a HUGE word of Good News to those of us who feel helpless and isolated; like we just can't win in life. More on this on Sunday.

For now I would like to point in a different direction: one of the contrasts between the Exodus story of Moses getting water for the children of Isreal and Jesus' comments about water in the John story.

In the Exodus story the water comes through Moses who is acting as a 'go between' between the people and God. And one of the unspoken (and sometimes spoken) lessons of the stories of the Exodus is "don't tick God off...He'll smack you around real good if you do" (my own paraphrase). That's why you have a go-between, to keep you from making some fatal mistake in your conversation with the Almighty.

Yet here is Jesus in His meeting with the woman; never once does he speak a word of condemnation to her. Never once does He speak a word of judgement. This poor woman is already the chief outcast in a village of outcasts. And, as a woman in that time and cultural situation, she is dependent on the very men who reject her for life itself.

Instead of condemnation and rejection, Jesus offers her a "spring within....welling up to eternal life." Think about it: no need to depend on someone else to make sure the water's there; no having to worry that you might 'tick off' somebody; just this bubbling, eternal spring....

This is what Jesus offers to us. To you and me with all our looking to others for approval and love and acceptance. To you and me, who are often so scared that if we tick God off that He'll withdraw His love-or worse. A living, bubbling spring of eternal life, eternal love that wells up from within us. What acceptance. What radical, world changing love.

See you Sunday.

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