Summary: Jesus’ saving work is dependent on HIS words, not ours.

Lent 2002

John 4:5-42

The Woman at the Well

Hang In There

There is a pastor named Tom who makes the time each month to go down to the homeless shelter in his city to work in their soup kitchen.

After the homeless people have been fed, he then invites each of them to join him in a service of Holy Communion and many of them will come with him to the little chapel in the shelter and join in the Lord?s Supper. They have shared soup together in the soup kitchen and then they come to share the bread and the cup together at the altar in the chapel.

One day, Tom had an unforgettable experience during the communion service. As he was moving down the altar, he came to a man kneeling there who looked like he had been out on the streets for quite some time. The man looked up at Tom and whispered: Skip me. What? Pardon me? Tom said. In a louder whisper, the man said again, Skip me. Why? Tom asked. Because, the man said, I?m not worthy. Tom said: Neither am I. Then Tom added: I?ll tell you what. I?m going to serve communion to these other people. Then I?m going to come back and serve communion to you and then I would like you to serve it to me. The man blinked and said to Tom: Father, is that legal? Yes, it?s legal; it?s beautiful and that?s what we are going to do! Tom answered.

Tom went on down the altar and served all the other people kneeling there and then he came back to the reluctant man and said: What?s your name? And the man said, Josh. Tom placed the elements of the Lord?s Supper before him and said: ?Josh, this is the Body of Christ given for you and this is the Blood of Christ shed for you. Eat this and drink this in the remembrance that Christ came for you and Christ died for you. Amen.?

Josh blinked back the tears in his eyes and he received Holy Communion. Then, Tom knelt and handed Josh the trays of bread and wine and said: Now, you serve me. Josh nervously took the trays and again he said: ?Father, are you sure this is legal? Yes, it?s legal. Just do it.?

Josh?s eyes were darting from side to side as he looked over his shoulders as if he expected (at any moment) the police, the FBI, the CIA or the Pope to come rushing in to arrest him. Finally, he held the trays toward Tom and as Tom received the Sacrament Josh muttered: ?Body Blood for you, Hang in There!? Tom said later: ?Of all the communion rituals I have ever heard, I don?t recall the words Hang in There? in any of them but at that moment for me, Holy Communion had never been more Holy.?

And Josh walked out of the homeless shelter that day with an extra spring in his step, and it was reported that he went everywhere saying: You won?t believe what happened to me today. In fact, the story became so widespread that from that day Josh became known on the streets as The Rev.

For Josh, that day was the beginning of a new life in Christ Jesus. He experienced a personal encounter with Jesus Christ at the communion rail and immediately went out into the world to share that experience with others.

Josh?s story is the woman at the well?s story too. Here this Samaritan woman goes to the well in the middle of the day to draw water and there is met by a tired Jesus sitting there seemingly waiting for her. ?Give me a drink,? he says. ?Excuse me?? says the woman. ?Aren?t you a Jew asking me, a Samaritan, to give you a drink of water?? ?If you knew the gift of God and who it is saying to you give me a drink you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.? ?But sir, you don?t have a bucket and that well is pretty deep. Where do you get that living water?? Jesus replies, ?No, no you don?t understand everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again but those who drink my water will never again be thirsty.? He then proceeds to tell her that he knows of her life and is still offering these things to her. This woman of five husbands and who is now with a man who is not her husband. Not only is she a Samaritan woman speaking with a Jewish man but she is a woman seen as unclean even in her own community of the unclean. She responds in faith, ?I know that Messiah is coming?. ?I am He? Jesus responds. And you can almost hear Josh?s voice adding the words, ?Hang in there?. The woman then runs to her town and tells everyone what has just happened. Jesus stayed with the Samaritans for two days and many more believed because of his word. And those Samaritans came to faith not because of the woman?s testimony but for what they had heard themselves. And they confessed in Jesus Christ as Savior of the World.

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