by Judy Atwood
Texts for the third Sunday in Lent, Year A
As we move in this third week of Lent, we discover in the lectionary readings a theme around thirst. In a story from Exodus, thirsty Israelites wandering in the wilderness demand water from Moses. In John's gospel, Jesus asks the woman at the well (a Samaritan woman at that) for water; then he offers her the living water of eternal life and promises that anyone who drinks of it will never be thirsty again. In Romans, we are reminded that we have the love of God which has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
Like the persons in these encounters, we also wonder how we can get past our thirst. As Christians, we also want to know how to help lead others through their thirst and desperation. What kind of thirst do we experience in our lives and the lives of those around us?
Sometimes we encounter persons who are desperate like the Israelites in the desert. They complained a lot.... Does that sound familiar? Often we want what we want when we want it.
True there are also places, too many of them, where persons are physically thirsty. Safe clean water is a very real issue. United Methodists support several mission projects around the world that dig and maintain wells with safe and healthy water.
What else makes us or others desperate people? I think of single parents who need safe, adequate, and affordable child care for their children so that they can go to their job knowing that their children are loved and cared for by loving hands in their absence. Families need healthcare as well. Without available and affordable healthcare, a simple illness can spell catastrophe for many. The third piece of this desperation is a safe, adequate, and affordable place to live. For those of us who have these three, we have much for which to be grateful.
Some people's thirst is spiritual. Folks with little or no hope for a life that brings them spiritual satisfaction often have this empty feeling. How can we provide that which offers to these persons a way to satisfy their thirst? How do we enable people to come to worship? Jesus, in his conversation with the Samaritan woman, helps us to see what it means for persons to be a victims of their culture.
I believe Jesus challenges us to go forth with open minds, open hearts, and open doors to present Christian hospitality. He provided that grace for the Samaritan woman to begin to feel like a person of worth.
Who is the "Samaritan woman" in our life? Who can help us be in ministry to the needs in our neighborhood? ... "God Can!"
God, as we continue our Lenten journey, keep us mindful that "You Can!" and are more than willing to fill us with your grace and lead our minds and hearts through the doors that need to be opened. Amen.
Judith (Judy) Atwood is a Deaconess and Diaconal minister serving as a Church and Community Worker as the South Central Jurisdiction Mission Interpreter in Residence (MIIR).
Date posted: Feb 21, 2008