Lent 3 The Woman at the Well
This story of the women at the well is a most unlikely scenario. This woman is traveling alone to a well which is quite uncommon by itself. Women usually traveled in pairs or more to collect water and they usually traveled in morning during the cool of the day. Jesus is by himself and she is alone and they begin to talk. She is a Samaritan and Jews had very little to do with Samaritans. Samaritans were also Hebrew but they had intermarried with other nations and were considered unclean.
Imagine this woman's surprise when Jesus asks her for a drink from the well much less engages her in conversation. He talks about living water that will leave her never thirsty. He offers her a spring of water gushing up to eternal life. It truly is amazing and a bit confusing. Living water in ancient times was running water. Rivers and streams were considered living water. And then he tells her things about her personal life that he should really have no way of knowing.
The woman at the well becomes convinced that Jesus is much more than a prophet. Jesus is the messiah. She leaves her jug and runs back to the village to tell the villagers. This is the one everyone has been waiting for. What surprises me most is that they believe her and she returns with all these people. It turns out so well that Jesus stays in their village for two days.
Jesus broke the rules. He spoke to someone considered unclean by Jewish standards. He engaged in a conversation with a woman who was of questionable nature. He was taking a lot of risk to his own position in society. I can imagine when the apostles returned that they just shook their heads and said, “We can't leave this guy alone!”
Jesus was a risk taker. He had an acute sense of right and wrong and when rules interfered with doing what was right he paid little regard for those rules. The woman at the well needed to hear about the living water that Jesus was offering and Jesus told her of it. She was offered the living water, the spiritual water and she embraced it.
So what is this two thousand year old story telling us today. Is it even relevant today? I think it is. When our moral compass tells us to go in a different direction from the common path, do we take that risk and follow it. Many Christians have taken that risk. Are we like them? I think we are.
Let me pull you back into our gospel reading. When the disciples returned, they urged him saying,”Rabbi, eat something,” and he replied “ I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
“My food is to do the will of him who sent me.”
That ladies and gentlemen is our food too. Jesus fed the woman at the well with spiritual food. What the woman at the well did not know was that she in her own way was feeding Jesus. When we are at Sunday services we recite prayers together. We greet each other with the peace. We join in songs of Godly praise. We are spiritually fed and at the same time we feed each other.
When we minister to those around us we are doing God's will and this ministry takes all kinds of shapes. Let me give you a list:
Visiting the sick.
Calling an old friend
Volunteering at a food bank
Practicing the organ for the Sunday service
Making sure there is something to eat after the service
Getting your children ready for church or school or any number of things
Being nice to your brother or sister
Saying something that brings a smile to someone..
This ministry is spiritual feeding and at the same time that you are doing it you are being fed as well.