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Exodus 17: 1-7

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.

The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?”

But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?”

So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

The LORD said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 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 that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.

He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?

John 4: 5-42

So he 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.”

In Arizona we’re at a high altitude and one of the things that Nicole kept saying to me was take a picture there’s nothing out there.  Deserts have many different appearances deserted places are deserts.lent commemorates jesus’ time in the wilderness a deserted place.

Sahara Desert.

A somewhat predictable oldie but amusing nevertheless.

A guy was lost in the Sahara Desert, desperate for water, when he saw something far off in the distance. Hoping to find water, he walked towards the image only to find a little old man sitting at a card table with a bunch of neckties laid out on it.

The guy asked, “Please, I’m dying of thirst, can I have some water?”

The old man replied, “I don’t have any water, but why don’t you buy a tie?. Here’s one that goes nicely with your shirt.”

The guy shouted, “I don’t want a tie, you idiot! I need water!”

“OK, don’t buy a tie, but to show you what a nice guy I am, I’ll tell you that over that dune there, about five miles down, there is a nice restaurant my brother runs. Go over that way, they’ll give you all the water you want.” The guy thanked him and walked away towards the dune and eventually disappeared.

Three hours later the guy came crawling back to where the old man was sitting behind his card table. The old man said, “I told you, about five miles over that dune. Couldn’t you find it?”

The guy rasped, “I found it, they wouldn’t let me in without a tie.”

Wells in the Desert
12  March  2023
The Rev. Dr. Dianne Carpenter
John 4: 5-42

During the Season of Lent, we’re working our way through a series of stories in the Gospel of John. Each of them describes Jesus’s encounter with a different person: Nicodemus the Pharisee, the woman at the well, the man born blind, and Lazarus of Bethany. These are stories of people that we usually think of as marginal to the Jesus story.  None of them are one of the twelve, for example. But in the Gospel of John, it is these encounters that reveal who Jesus really is.

With large stretches of sand in the area, water is a precious necessity of life.  The River Litani and the River Jordan are the only rivers of any size in the vicinity of the land of Canaan. Wadis…flash flood areas.  Sandy area  is hilly and the road winds thru these hills. Ben Sira, in 2nd-century BCE Jewish wisdom book,  also called Ecclesiasticus (its Latin name). twice enumerates water as the first among the “principal things necessary for the life of man.”

Reference to Dr.  Beck [green areas in the desert] [modern wells- Spencer  100’ down here septic bearly clears water table] All springs, wells and fountains were landmarks in the topography of Israel. Abraham dug wells near Gerar. Abraham’s Well is a historical water well in BeershebaIsrael, associated with the biblical narrative of Abraham– Abraham’s well was seized by Abimelech’s men (Genesis 21:25), and Isaac’s servants also dug a well at Beersheba (Genesis 26:25).

 An angel found Hagar at a well in the Sinai, Beer Lahai Roi (Genesis 16:7).

Life is saved in the prospects of death  are near…

To own a well and to possess the surrounding country were synonymous terms (Proverbs 5:15-17). On the other hand, so serious might be the disputes arising out of the use or claim of a well that violent conflicts occurred (Genesis 26:21; Exodus 2:17; Numbers 20:17). If the approach of an enemy was feared, his progress might be seriously hampered, if not altogether frustrated, by stopping or destroying the wells along his route (2 Chronicles 32:3).

“Wells of water” speak of access and supply, and much more in the Bible.  When Israel traveled to a place where God had miraculously provided water in the past, they sang, “Spring up, O well! All of you sing to it…” (see Numbers 21:16-17) God’s people recognized that He was the One who had provided the water before, and that He would do so again.  ie Exodus…

McFee points out that:  “Wells are a literary device in scripture, often the site of betrothal. Isaac finds Rebekah at a well. Jacob meets Rachel at a well. Moses’ marriage to Zipphorah is connected to a well.”  So it is not a casual thing for Jesus to meet this Samaritan woman- who has had several husbands- at a well in the fourth chapter of John’s gospel.

As necessary as water is for life, loving and being loved is  also necessary for fullness of life.  Our Lenten theme is the human search for love.  We thirst after wholeness – we look for love in many places – What wells are we drinking from to quench the thirst for wholeness only to realize that power, reknown, beauty, status symbols, popularity, wealth, cars, technology, experiences, relationships…….Does not satisfy and the search goes on.

In our desperation for real connection we keep chasing after shallow connections like foreign pen pals and today on things like social media,[expand] and consistently drinking from a well that only will lead to us being thirsty again. [secret identity]

What wells are we drinking from as communities [abutters to housing for the economically challenged work forces in exclusive communities] to quench the thirst for wholeness only to realize that love of property values, are not saving?

What wells are we drinking from as a nation where gun ownership is more of a sacred right than our children and human beings?  What will it take to realize that mental health and sanity will thrive only in the context of radical love? [expand]

The Samaritan woman had no reason to trust a Jew who was hanging out at her well in the middle of the day.  She was there because she was an outsider to her own community where most of the women would draw water early in the coolness of the morning.  But this Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, gave her reason to trust him.  He showed her that he knew who she was and he loved her with THE love of the God that they each worshiped, tho’ in different ways.

Life is full of desert places where we cannot thrive: depression, loss, disappointment…we need wells of living water

People at odds over philosophical differences within our country cannot communicate until they find radical respect for one another.  Name calling and avoidance contributes only to further the disagreement and the fractured society we live in and our more fractured global community  [China/Russia vs usa.]

 Jesus reminds us that there is a deeper well–a spring of water “gushing up to eternal life.” There are deep wells of spirit and of truth that we can drink from that will perpetually slake a deep human thirst we share! 

And Jesus offers this across lines of exclusion.  There is no exclusive club that has sole access to this kind of deep well of eternal life. We have to remember to seek out deep relationships and not shy away from ones that might cross over arbitrary social taboos such as race, age or sexual identity. That is what is modeled for us in the fourth chapter of John. [Mcfee]

The reading from Exodus also reminds us that the deepest well, the most important source of nourishment, is from God. The one who can even draw water from a rock–from Massah and Meribah which, in Hebrew, literally translates to mean “Test” and “Quarrel.” Only God can draw water from impossible places! Which means we can trust that even in the midst of our own quarrels and tribulations that the real source is always present with us when our faith is tested or life is unbelievably difficult?

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