A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.

Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Prayers of the People: Well Enough? ~ 3rd Sunday in Lent '23 Yr A

For Sunday, March 12, 2023 ~ Readings: Exodus 17:1-7Psalm 95Romans 5:1-11John 4:5-42

   Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?"...The LORD said to Moses...I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so the people may drink." [Exodus 17:2b, 5a, 6a]

  Come, let us sing to the LORD, let us shout for joy to the Rock of our Salvation. [Psalm 95:1]

  Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. [Romans 5:1-3]

 Jacob's Well was there and Jesus tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well...A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."...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...he would have given you living water...God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." [John 4:6a, 7a, 9-10, 24]

    In this Gospel reading, Jesus is taking a shortcut to Galilee. He and the disciples with him are in a part of the country where no respectable Jew would usually travel let alone strike up a conversation with one of those people, who is, of all things, also a woman! When the Jews returned from exile in Babylon, four centuries prior to this encounter, they refused to allow the Samaritans to participate in the rebuilding of Jerusalem and particularly the Temple. For the Samaritans, the Temple separated and centralized the worship of God in Jerusalem which gave rise to the woman’s comment to Jesus about the Samaritan worship of God on their own mountain. Also, the Jews would neither eat nor drink with Samaritans – it was likely, in part, because of the Jewish purity laws although we don't know all the issues that divided them. This passage highlights Jesus' willingness to have this conversation and to tell of the coming time when worship for all will be very different for the true believers, that worship of God is not exclusive to a time, place, or people. It also underscores many of the issues of the other in our current life and times. 
    Differences in culture, dress, religion, food and drink, accents, even among those of our own nation – and foremost, skin color – separate us, narrowing our human experiences, creating deep and ancient, or at least very old prejudices, handed down through generations with little explanation or understanding of the roots of the conflict. The “Hatfields and McCoys*” of life and legend in our land, are just one example. Left unchecked and re-evaluated, layers of mistrust continue to deepen and solidify, turn to un-examined hate, and all too often, violence. Us vs. Them, is a prevailing human issue – if you're one of them you cannot be one of us. All too often we can't – or rather won’t – discuss the whys and wherefores of our opinions and deeply held beliefs. Understanding each other might taint what we've been taught to believe by those we accept as authoritative. Our beliefs have been sustained and enhanced by the continual distraction, misinformation, and propaganda from those who profit from our divisions. And, whether we admit it or not, many of us don’t like facts to get in the way of what we want to believe. Thinking differently about something I thought was undisputed is very uncomfortable, even scary.
    WWYD? What Would You Do – if you were desperately thirsty in a place you didn't feel you belonged in, or your car broke down in a strange location, or you witnessed someone unlike yourself being harassed or worse?  How have we fostered the isolating of ourselves and the marginalizing of others by what we have done and by what we have left undone? **  Possibly in the communal desert of our own making, we falsely believe that it keeps us being us and them away from us which makes everything better for us. Great logic? I regularly have to stop and examine my reactions and the in-my-head responses to think and wonder why I am for it or against it, whatever it is and to whom it is directed, as well as who I accept as my authority on the matter and why.
   Lent is a moment to think about our desert moments in life. Is God in Jesus my Living Water for consolation, hope, compassion, and love of my neighbor as if s/he/they are myself, or just the One I blame and complain to? Jesus told the Samaritan woman that God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. 
   This is a Well that runs deep. How deeply are we each searching to bring up to our conscious thoughts and acts the living water, the spirit and truth of God, the Creator of ALL life in its multitude of shapes, forms, cultures, colors, genders, genomes, and faiths. How often do we say grace yet hate the neighbors – you know, the ones who post opposite political views on Facebook or bumper stickers, attend a different church, mosque, temple, synagogue, or none at all? Jesus tells the Samaritan woman first before all others that he is the Messiah. She believes him. Do we? Time for us each to dig deep. Our love of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is only as deep as our spiritual wells. Is my Well enough?

*“The Hatfields and McCoys,” A true American family feud with deadly consequences for both sides has become a metaphor to describe great and volatile conflicts between neighbors or groups. Click here to see more: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hatfields-and-McCoys

**from the Confession in the US Book of Common Prayer, pg 360, emphasis added


Leader:  ~ O God of Grace and Peace, drive us from the desert of discouragement we lead ourselves into by our wayward hearts and selfish grumblings. Guide us back to the saving water from the Rock of Faith that washes away all fear, anguish, and uncertainty. 

                                                Lord of Living Water                                                
          RESPONSE:           Our souls are quenched in You

~ O God of Grace and Peace, awaken, inspire, and turn the efforts of the leaders of this World, this Nation, and this Community into a cooperative spirit, especially now, for the common purpose of the health, safety, and prospering of all Your people everywhere. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Lord of Living Water
                                                Our souls are quenched in You

~ O God of Grace and Peace, pour Your love and enduring hope into those who are seriously ill and fearful of what is to come. Grant health and safety to all who minister to their needs. We now join our hearts to pray for those in need… add your own petition

                                                Lord of Living Water
                                                Our souls are quenched in You      

~ O God of Grace and Peace, bathe the hearts of the mournful with Your healing mercy, as those who have departed this life now, dance with joy in the fountains of eternity with You. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                Lord of Living Water
                                                Our souls are quenched in You

~ O God of Grace and Peace, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                Lord of Living Water
                                                Our souls are quenched in You                 

~ O God of Grace and Peace, refresh the spirit of those we have called into leadership for Your Church. May their faith in You course so strongly in their hearts that they and we are sustained and renewed with the courage of their convictions. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Lord of Living Water
                                                Our souls are quenched in You

The Celebrant adds: Great Lord of Heaven and of All the Earth, Christ among us is the proof of Your love for us and the model for how to live as an inclusive community of faith. Unharden our hearts to rid the world of prejudice and hate by reconciling ourselves with others, planting seeds of kindness and understanding, and returning real or perceived insults and injuries with calm forgiveness. We ask this through Jesus, the Rock of our Salvation; and the Holy Spirit, the Sustainer of our souls; who live and reign with You, One God, Fount of all that is infinite and eternal.   Amen. 

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