March 19, 2017
3rd Sunday in Lent
Please pray with me,
Lord God, you kept Abraham and Sarah in safety throughout the days of their pilgrimage, you led the children of Israel through the midst of the sea, and by a star you led the Wise Men to the infant Jesus. Protect and guide us now in this Lenten journey, open our eyes to see and our hearts to experience the unimaginable love you have for all your children. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
The gospel of John is all about knowing Jesus. It’s all about knowing about Jesus through stories and the opportunity to see Jesus as the light of the world in our midst. It’s all about knowing God’s unimaginable love for us through the relationship God has with us in Jesus Christ.
This passage is deep. Not just because it’s at the site of a well, but because of the length of conversation, the depth of conversation, and the outcome of the conversation.
Last week we heard the interaction between Jesus and Nicodemus. This week we are invited to come and see the interaction between Jesus and the woman at the well. The two stories have their similarities and differences. Nicodemus, a man, comes to Jesus under the cover of night. The interaction at the well is with a woman, in broad daylight at noon. Both individuals question Jesus and take a guess as to who he is and both are a bit confused. Jesus shares more about himself and Nicodemus is still uncertain and leaves the scene quietly.
The woman, on the other hand begins to wonder, he can’t be the messiah, can he? And she runs into town, leaving her water jug behind and tells everyone, “Come and see!”
Too often when this passage is heard, we get caught up in why the woman was at the well at that time of day. Noontime would not have been the time to get water from the well. And when Jesus says to her, “you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband.” Imagine, just imagine, Jesus speaking pure truth to you. As he talks with this woman, he tells her that he knows her and her history. It does not come off with a tone of judgment, but rather as understanding and just knowing.
While we do not know the woman’s history, think about a person in our day in age who may have been married 5 times….and who knows why those marriages may have ended, death, divorce? In any event, that is 5 broken relationships, not a happy place for any man or woman to be. So for Jesus to state this truth back to her is, for me, the deepest part of this passage. It’s the moment when Jesus looks at her, sees her for who she is, and loves her in spite of who she is.
That, my friends, is unimaginable.
Her response, too, comes as a surprise. She leaves the well, to tell others, to “come and see!” It’s a deep awakening of faith and she cannot keep it to herself. It’s one of those moments that can only be described at a God moment. In that moment…her heart is transformed because of God’s love for her. (Oh to have a moment like that…on that we can only shout about.)
It’s not a moment of confession and forgiveness, it’s a moment where God’s love breaks in and wins the day. It’s a moment where a woman, is seen for exactly who she is and is loved anyway.
Each week as we gather in this place, we begin with words of confession and forgiveness. I know, I just said that the meeting at the well was not a moment of confession and forgiveness, but for us, that is a time each week when we are about to see ourselves for who we are...children of God, simultaneously sinner and saint, created in God’s image, imperfect, nonetheless. When we are able to see ourselves as who we truly are, we become aware, if just for a brief moment, how Jesus sees us.
Jesus sees us and knows us: our past mistakes, our imperfections, the times we have been hurt and the times we have hurt others. The times we have been ignored and the times we have ignored others. In those moments, when we are at our weakest, when we Jesus can see us for who we really are that Jesus says, “I love you.”
The love God has for each and every one of us reaches farther than we can comprehend, deeper than we can fathom and encompasses all of God’s creation.
It’s a love that wants us to be the best that we can. It’s a love that a parent has for a child, a love that never runs out. It’s a love God has for us because God is in relationship with us through Jesus Christ, and wants the very best for us each and every day of our lives.
It’s hard to put into words, hard to comprehend, it’s unimaginable.
Let us pray,
Good and gracious God, You want for us only good things and yet sometimes we have a hard time accepting your gifts and being the people you have created us and call us to be. Help us to let go of those things that hold us back, remind us of your unfailing love, your unimaginable acts of love and grace and create in us the hope and courage to accept that love, share it with others and live into the future you have created. and may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.