COCU21A.Lent 3A

Exodus 17:1-7: The people of Israel grumble against Moses because of their thirst and the lack of water, so God commands Moses to strike the rock, and when he does so, water gushes out.
Psalm 95: An invitation for God’s people to worship God, and not harden their hearts as Israel did at Meribah, resulting in them not entering God’s rest.
Romans 5:1-11: In Christ we have been made right with God, and have the Holy Spirit as assurance of God’s love. It was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us, and now we are God’s friends.
John 4:5-42: Jesus, while resting at Jacob’s well in Samaria, meets a Samaritan woman, speaks to her about living water and reveals himself as the Messiah to her. In delight she returns to her village and brings others to meet Christ, and they too believe.
(Summaries of readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

UN World Water Day (WWD) is recognised each year on March 22, and may be helpfully explored if the focus of the service is the Gospel reading on the woman at the well, and life-giving water. See the related link on this website here which includes prayer resources and links.

Call to Worship 
Children of God, it’s time to take off your shoes,
Let go of the anxieties and worries, and
Wade with trust into the stream of God’s compassionate grace.
We come to be still for a moment,
to gather in holy time and space. 
Let the healing waters wash your heart.
Take a deep breath as Love soaks into your soul.
We come to know again that we belong, 
We are treasured by God,
Listen to the whispering of God
Let the conversations with God begin
We come with our questions
And with our deep desires
To re-orientate our lives in God.
(Source: St Martins Presbyterian Church, Christchurch, NZ)

In a culture where only men can initiate marriage or divorce
she’s been thrown away by five husbands,
and now is used by one who won’t commit to her.
In a culture where women draw water in order of social status,
she’s there for her morning water at noon. She’s a pariah.
He’s a Jew and she’s a Samaritan; he’s a rabbi and she’s a woman.
She has no reason to expect an exchange at all, let alone respect,
and certainly not an engaging theological discussion.
But he sees her – her, not people’s judgment of her.
He sees her as she is, and accepts her without judgment:
she is not immoral; she has been used.
He sees her wound. And he sees the truth in her.
He sees her not as someone flawed,
but someone gifted.
He talks theology with her,
longer than with anybody else in the Gospels.
Then she leaves her water jug,
not out of forgetfulness but because she knows she’s coming back.
She goes into the village,
and the former outcast becomes the first Christian evangelist.
She brings people to Jesus.
Something happened in her that changed her.
What was it?
Imagine this: Jesus comes to you
in the dull midday heat of your ordinary life.
You are bound by judgments of how good you are.
And he sees through that. Sees you. You. Your soul.
He sees your wounds, sees your giftedness.
He sees how your wounds inhibit your gifts…
and yet can propel your gifts.
And in his knowing he sets you free.
Leave your water jug.
What is the news in you to tell?
What will you do? How will you tell it?
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Charlie’s blog: One of my favorite stories in the New Testament is one found in Luke 25. Jesus walked into the temple to find a woman preaching. When He realized what was happening, He walked up to the pulpit and pushed the woman off of the stage. He then said, “No woman should have authority over any man, for it is impossible for a man to learn from a woman. I say to you, strike down any woman that tries to pastor a church.”
Do you know why I love that story? Because it never happened.
What the New Testament does show, however, is Jesus helping, loving, and lifting up every woman He came in contact with. John 4 shows a Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus and how it moved her to share His message with the “men” in her town (verse 28). The Bible says that many of the men believed because of her.
As their conversation started Jesus told the woman to go call her husband and come back. In those days a woman was not to talk to a man in public without her husband present, but this isn’t why Jesus said that. Jesus brought this up to expose the sin in her life.
Jesus wasn’t interested in stale gender roles and following what the culture at the time thought was “right.” He valued the woman and saw her worth as a human being.
The story in John 4 is the true story, but so many people today act like the story in “Luke 25” is what really happened. If being a Christian literally means being a little Christ, maybe we should start by treating both men and women the way He did.


Jesus and the Samaritan woman (Zambia)

‘Return to God: Divine Grace and Human Struggle’
Christ is ready to offer “the living water”, the gift of God to the thirsty soul that misses the mark in seeking her joy and rest. What aspects of the Samaritan Woman’s encounter with Jesus particularly stand out for you: Confrontation? Confusion? Clarification? How would you compare your encounters with the presence of Jesus with the Samaritan woman’s encounter?  How have you responded to the offer of living water?
One can hardly imagine that going about one’s daily business, drawing water from a well, in a way that would minimise the chance of an encounter with others, in the midday sun, would lead to an encounter that would be a crossroad experience, an experience that would involve confrontation, confusion and clarification. The confrontation is totally unexpected as Jesus breaks the social conventions of the day and speaks to not only a Samaritan, not only a Samaritan woman, but a Samaritan woman who is living a lifestyle at odds with the Mosaic Law! Clearly the Samaritan woman is uncomfortable and as we read, we can just empathise with her as she tries to end this encounter. In doing this, the conversations becomes confused with the woman focussing on the everyday physical meaning of Jesus’ words in an attempt, maybe a deliberate attempt to avoid facing the spiritual issues about which Jesus is speaking. And yet we get the impression that Jesus’ insight into this woman’s life and his persistence is both convincing and convicting. At this stage, the Samaritan woman gains clarification of her reality and responds, not just in the way that the prodigal son responded, but with gratitude and witnessing to the presence of the Messiah, and the reality of his provision of “living water” that is both satisfying and eternal.
(Source: South Australian Council of Churches Lenten Study 2016, p.17)

Woman of Sychar
Between the mountains of curses and blessings
We hold the memory of prophets and kings.
I follow the footsteps of Dinah’s shaming
To draw water for cooking and washing small-things.
Like Dinah, the men in my life led to naming
That I could not wed a husband of mine.
Yet lonely I’m not for I live with another
I survive with whoever is there at the time.
For such is the life of Samaria’s woman
That during the day I would go to the well.
I am met and conversed with – by a Messiah!
My story he details and chooses to tell.
We joust with our words in long repartee –
A dialogue given for many to comment.
His wisdom and care lightens my spirit.
Somehow I know I am called to speak out.
I run into town to tell all and sundry –
Here is good news – let there be no doubt.
I follow Him now – and will do so forever
Join with me in song – Join with me to shout:
Hosanna! Hosanna! The Lord is come!
(Source: Amelia Koh-Butler, Hyphenated Faith)

Fabulous Photina (Samaritan woman)
Photina is the Samaritan woman’s baptismal name. Susan’s article (Susan Harrison, Mother God experiment) is most interesting, and will give a new perspective. In the comments on Susan’s post, someone has written: ‘A friend has alerted me to the possibility that these are not regular marriages, but rather sacred ritual marriages of hieros gamos at a temple in which a priestess and a male member of the community are joined in remembrance of the Goddess and her “king.” The “woman at the well” might be such a priestess and because of her religious role, a leader of her community. Thus, Jesus is pictured offering his Good News to someone representing the “other side.” Interesting idea that Jesus is the current man. So we see the sacred Bride and Bridegroom again”.
Worth exploring some of this further!

Thirsty (John 4:4-42)
Source of living water,
We thirst for what we don’t really know or understand,
Too often we don’t even know that we are thirsty,
Too often we hunger not knowing that we are filling ourselves with emptiness and hollowness.
Too often we deny our need,
And wrap ourselves in layers of self-deception.
You come to us and challenge us with your confronting truth,
Of our need for healing and reconciliation,
For transformation and renewal,
For new life
Teach us how to worship in Spirit and in truth,
Letting go the façade of piety,
Turning from our habit of religion,
Into mission and service,
Inviting others into relationship,
With you and others,
That open us to hunger for love and life which opens eternity,
For you are the one.
So come and meet us when we least expect it,
and burst the bubble of our impoverished complacency.
Thus, we pray.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite)

Praying Romans 5:1-11
In you we are justified by faith.
We have peace in you Jesus, who is Christ,
ln you we access to your grace.
In you we stand;
and in you we hold hope of sharing the glory of God.
Teach us Christ, your way of well being,
Help us hold your hope in our sufferings,
Knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope,
and hope does not disappoint us, because your cycle of hope is found in your love which has been poured into our hearts through you Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Whilst we are still weak,
We remember that at the right time
You came, lived and died for us, the ungodly,
Through which you proved your love for us,
Even while we still were sinners.
So, surely then, now we have been justified by your love,
In your grace we are saved.
We were enemies,
We are reconciled
We are saved
May we embody your life.
May we live your love
May we share your grace
That we might join with you in reconciling all people.
Humble us once more,
That we might live for you
and follow in your way.
So it may always be so.
(source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite)

Introduction to Prayers for Others
It’s common to think about ‘living water’ – the powerful metaphor from this week’s readings – as something we receive. We focus on our own dryness and thirst, and feel rightly grateful that God comes to us with the offer of gracious refreshment and life. But, to stop there is to leave the extraordinary message of this passage incomplete, and to allow the Gospel to support what can become little more than selfishness. As we follow Christ the call this week is to move from being only recipients of living water to givers of it – especially to the poor and the marginalised. This was the journey of the Samaritan woman, and it is the inevitable, and even uncomfortable, journey for anyone who is serious about living life under God’s reign. (Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)
We offer prayers for those who long for the refreshment of living water…..prayers are offered.

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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