The Blue Mountains Franciscan Church, Sermon preached by Br. Andrew from Maroubra on Sunday 19 march 2017, 3rd Sunday in Lent year A
“O that today you would listen to his voice!
8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your ancestors tested me,
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. .”(Psalm 95:8,9 NRSV)
We are all justified by Christ and have received grace through which we boast of sharing the glory of God and boast even of our trials knowing that our relationship with Christ will be strengthened. – So Paul was a Methodist aha
Simply speaking, our boast is our ‘witness’ to others of the free gift of salvation awaiting the ‘Yes” of every humanbeing throughout hstory.
Paul tells us that the arrival of the source of this ‘yes’ is that Jesus was made incarnate here with us AT THE RIGHT TIME to die for ALL. Since Paul speaks of the right time let’s look at the stages towards salvation present in our readings.
Our first reading begins like this:
Exodus 17:1″From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded”
All through the history of humankind it is God who governs our moverments, “from our going out and our coming in”.(Psalm 121:8 ESV)
At Rephidim there was no water.
And God led Moses to the rock of Horeb to stike it, among witnessess, and water flowed freely to quench the thirst of ungrateful Hebrews.
And many hundreds of years later the woman of Sychar who visited the well in the heat of high noon.
At Sychar there was plenty of water but the collecting of it frought with shame.
Noticing the stages throughout our readings we also note the presence of WATER. It is that which unites the coming of the glory of God upon the earth.
From plain ordinary water that quenches thirst to spiritual water which makes us live forever.
WATER!, we drink it, wash in it and with it! the greater part of our world and ourselves consists of H2O in its various forms.
It was the drinking kind which began our walk to the ‘Yes’. Have we been ungratful, angry with God to the point that we would murder our leaders because they appeared to have failed us? Sometimes, yes we become apostates and we harden our hearts against God. Yet if we stop and pray knowing God is always with us and will never fail to answer us, in God’s time – we will not strike out in fear and fury at those appointed by God to lead us.
However the Hebrews did not know God and struck out at the nearest thing to God – Moses.
Sychar was in Samaria, and Samaritans were kin to the Jews but considered unclean because of their intermarriage with non Jews, mainly Assyrians, see wikipedia – Samaritans -for best consensus
Though passing through Samaria was the closest route to Galilee, some 34 miles from Jerusalem, every ” good Jew” avoided it to take a longer way around to avoid Samaria altogether. Jesus could have avoided Samaria altogether as every ‘good Jew’ would, but no, firstly Jesus was not the good Jew as defined by the times and secondly he had an appointment in Sychar, someone to meet.
To sit at the well there, Jacob’s well, waiting a certain woman to draw water at noon. It was the hottest part of the day, why shouldn’t Jesus be thirsty? His disciples had gone away into town to buy food and no one was there to see the Samaritan give the Jew a drink – if she would. We will never know whether Jesus got his drink of water, other than being told that he had no bucket. From their conversation we learn of the shame that brought her to the well at the hottest part of the day, to avoid the other town’s women.
Jesus’ approach to her begins as a riddle or allegory as he begins to unveil the Living God, who brings living Water. Her response sees such water as the unending supply of physical water to ease her shame forever.
It is when Jesus asks her to call her husband-(“Fetch you husband, I have no husband” – yes she was a serial adulteress and had been with 6 men, none of whom she had married. She was ashamed.) that she takes the conversation elsewhere and so through their conversation we learn a little of the spiritual lives of the Samaritans.
What shame in us causes us to place ourselves into uncomfortable physical conditions? Such shame that is not easily rid of or we are too proud to ask God for forgiveness and mend the situation.
The conversation is about Temples, the Samaritans worshipped on Mount Gerazim and the Jews in Jerusalem. ( Article concerning Alexander the Greats involvement in the building of the Temple on Mount Gerazim)
Using his dialogue with the Samaritan woman at the well Jesus explains that there will come a” time when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. “
22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. It is always interesting that Jesus persists in repeating this phrase,” to the Jews first and also to the Gentiles” ‘salvation comes from the Jews’ was supposed to come from the Jews
23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The Law written in our hearts is Jesus
Jeremiah said those who had the new law written on their hearts would know the Lord and would no longer need others to teach them. This is describing our union with Christ. One with the Lord you have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16). His Spirit dwells in you and teaches you all things (John 14:26).
This is the living Water
“ I am he who is speaking to you” -And the woman of Sychar recognises that Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed one and flies away to tell the others who also come to see, and like doubting Thomas believe because they have seen.
We have slaked the thirst of the Hebrews with physical water from the rock of Horeb and have moved in stages with God to the Spiritual Water which is the living Water of the Lord Jesus which is there for all to claim – by saying “yes”.
And now the fields are ready for the harvest, before their time and the sower and the reaper rejoice together in their partnership which has gathered souls into many mansions.
Furthermore the stages have brought us from the invisible God of Horeb to the visible God of Sychar. Do we have the faith to wait on the Lord?