St. Paul's Episcopal Church
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Wallingford, CT 06492

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                                                                   Lent 3/A: 3/23/13

                                                                                    The Rev. Dee Anne Dodd

                                                                                    St. Paul's, Wallingford CT

 

It was the worse possible time to go to the well --

high noon, miserable heat.

She knew this.

But it was the best time for her to go.

No one else would be there to judge or embarrass her.

No catcalls from the men; no stares from the women.

So she endured her daily, solitary walk in the stifling sun.

 

But when she got there that day it appeared as if

her worse fear had been realized.

Someone was there.  A man was there. 

A tired, thirsty Jewish man. 

And he had the audacity to ask her to get him a drink.

 

Maybe she was just being practical

wondering why a Jewish man would even talk to

a Samaritan woman,

much less ask her to get him some water.

She was certainly practical when she noticed that he had no bucket.

And when he offered to give her a drink from

that "spring of water gushing up to eternal life",

she jumped at the chance to never thirst or

trudge to that well again.

 

Ah, but was it too good to be true?

He asks for her husband,

but knows her marital status even before she answers.

Five husbands and the guy she's now with . . . hmmm.

 

But unlike the people who gathered at the well

in the cool of the day -- unlike, well, us,

this thirsty Jewish man Jesus

doesn't jump to conclusions.

He doesn't titter.  He doesn't judge. 

He just knows.

Maybe he knows her better than she knows herself.

 

He may be the first person she's ever met

who doesn't underestimate her.

He knows life is complicated.

He knows that her life is complicated.

 

Maybe all those husbands dumped her because she was barren.

That wouldn't have been so unusual in her world,

and the thirst motif of the story might suggest this.

Or maybe she was widowed, or had been abused.

Or maybe she did make some really rotten choices.

But it's not as if she had a lot of options.

It's not as if a woman alone

could support herself in that culture.

 

Yet Jesus sees her as someone

who can understand what he's saying,

who can accept what he's offering.

And you know what?

He's right.

 

After a little, frankly, theological back and forth, this woman --

this scorned, unnamed, unclean, Samaritan woman -- gets it.

 

Unlike that learned religious leader named Nicodemus

encountered in last week's Gospel,

this woman fully understands who Jesus is and what he's about.

And not only that, she tells others right outloud.

She becomes what many have called the "first evangelist."

 

The basis of her testimony?

Jesus knew everything she'd ever done

and still wanted to know more.

He still thought she was worth his time and effort and

most of all, love.

He still wanted to give her a drink from that "spring of water

gushing up to eternal life."

 

Did you know that we have our own Samaritan woman right here?

She's on the lovely stained glass window

on the way into church school/coffee hour --

and if you've not noticed her before, I think you will today

as her surroundings were spectacularly spruced up

just this past week.

And underneath the window

are a few words that sum up her story -- and ours: 

We have a friend in Jesus. 

 

In Jesus, we have a friend who's been just as tired and thirsty

as we have,

and who knows everything we've ever done.

He loves us too much to let us drown where we are.

He wants nothing more than for us -- for each of us --

to take our place at the well with the Samaritan woman

and accept a drink of living water.

And then, having been refreshed

by that "spring of water gushing up to eternal life",

to go tell others to "come and see" what it's like

to be fully known

yet fully loved.

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