[Jesus] came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

John 4:5-42

Pastor Marc's sermon on the Third Sunday in Lent (March 15, 2020) on John 4:5-42. Listen to the recording here or read my manuscript below. 


So what struck me about this reading today - was how the Samaritan Woman and Jesus both made choices in this passage. When she came to the well, she didn’t expect to meet anyone there. But she finds Jesus - who is sitting there and, in my head, I imagine he’s basically in her way. She needs to go near him to get to that well. And so she does - and that’s when he spoke to her. His words “give me a drink” are not the earth shattering faith-based words we might Jesus to say. But they do stop her in her tracks. Because she knows that what Jesus was doing was really odd - because he shouldn’t be talking to her in the first place. She’s a woman. She’s a Samaritan. And he’s a Jewish teacher. There’s a huge gender and religious barrier between the two that should cause both of them to keep their distance. The Samaritan and the Jewish community had different thoughts about who God is and where God is to be worshipped. Those differences had separated, over the centuries, separated these two communities. Jesus, in that moment, shouldn’t be talking to her. But he did. And that left her with a choice. She should have, according to their cultural expectations, just fill her bucket and gone home. She should have walked away. Yet she didn’t. She talked back. Because, by meeting him, her everyday suddenly changed. 
But this connection wasn’t the only choice these two made. We also get a fun back and forth where Jesus and the Samaritan woman take a risk to reveal a bit of their story to one another. She revealed, even though she didn’t have to, a little bit about who she was. Yet she didn’t reveal her whole story - just a bit - just enough to make you wonder why she’s revealing her marital status to a strange man she just met at a well. She, in that moment, showed who she was - a person with a story worth telling but one she would tell on her own terms. And so Jesus, in his own way, did the same. He says, in this passage, something he hadn’t said before. He said, “I am he” - the Messiah. But the words he spoke were even bigger than that. He said “I am” - words that matched the ones God used when God revealed Gods-self to Moses way back in the book of Exodus. Moses asked for God’s name and God said “I Am.” Jesus chooses to reveal his identity to someone he shouldn’t be talking to. And she, at the same time, revealed who she was too. There is, in their relationship, a mutual revealing - a mutual sharing - of who they are. And in that sharing, she was invited into a new life - a new reality - where God revealed all the different kinds of stories from all the different kinds of people who belonged to God. 
This Lent, we’re working on telling our faith story and we’re using the Pixar model of storytelling to do it. A few weeks ago, I invited you to think about a moment when Jesus was real to you. Savor that moment and then try to put that into words. First, set the stage for the story by finishing this sentence: “Once upon a time there was…” And once the story is set, spend time describing what made that day like every other day by finishing this sentence: “And every day . . .” Yet when Jesus showed up - when Jesus made himself known to you in a real, tangible, ordinary, and  extraordinary kind of way - your everyday changed. Maybe not at first. Maybe not in a thunder and lightning kind of way. But your everyday changed because the promises made to you in your baptism and faith - of God’s presence, love, and hope - were no longer just words. They were made visible in your life - and revealed that those promises were already part of your story. Because once upon a time there was a Samaritan woman. And everyday she went to the well for water at noon. But one day, she revealed to someone she wasn’t supposed to a bit of her story. Your story, like the Samaritan’s woman, is worth telling. Your experience of Jesus is part of who you are. And so I invite you, in the middle of this weird time when we might struggle to feel as if Jesus is really here - lean into the promises that are already part of who you are. Then add to your Jesus story by finishing this sentence - But one day . . .