Summary: Lent 3A: First person sermon. The Samaritan woman recounts her meeting with Jesus, and how sharing with others what God has done in your life can help your faith grow.

Grace to you and peace, sisters and brothers, from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus— who is * the Messiah. Amen

I have a story to tell you today about something that happened when I was much younger, a few thousand years younger.

It happened when I was living in the small town of Sychar, in the hills of Samaria. Our town’s claim to fame was our ancient well— the well of Jacob, which was just a half mile south of our town.

The well supplied all the drinking water for our town. The women would go out to the well every day to draw the water from the well, and then carried it home for our family.

Most of the women took care of this task in the morning, even in the winter, when the mornings could be about 40 degrees. They gathered around the well while they drew the water, visiting with one another, talking about their families and the town gossip.

The town gossip— that’s precisely why I didn’t like to go to the well when the other women were there. Quite often, the gossip was about me.

You see, Sychar wasn’t my home town. One of my husbands moved me there. One of my husbands. You see, I’ve had five husbands. I married the first time at the usual age, but after three years with no children, my first husband divorced me and sent me home to my father.

My father couldn’t afford to keep an unmarried daughter around forever, so he arranged to marry me to an older man, to be his second wife. I still didn’t have any children, and then he died. One of his brothers was kind enough to marry me, as the Law required, but his first wife didn’t like me, so....

Anyway, that’s the way it went— one man after another. Finally, men kind of gave up on marrying me— and my father had died— so, in the end, I just moved in with a man. I guess I’m more like his household servant than his wife. I cook his meals, mend his clothes, fetch his water....

Well, like I said, it’s water that takes me to the well every day. But I try to avoid the times when the other women will be there. I often go around noon.

One day, in the month of Shevat (which you call February), I got to the well and found that I wasn’t alone. There was a man there. It could have been dangerous to be alone there with a man, at a time of day when no other people were around to provide any protection— but I didn’t really care. I was used to taking care of myself.

And then this man, Jesus, started talking to me. I could tell by his accent that he was a Jew, which made this very strange, indeed. Men don’t talk to women in public... and Jews don’t talk to Samaritans... but... this man was talking to me!

Even more surprising, Jesus was asking me for a drink of water from the well! Jews just don’t do that. If he drank from a Samaritan cup, the Jews would consider him ritually unclean.

So when I answered him, I pointed all of that out, to put up a wall between us. I didn’t need another man— I had enough trouble with the one I already had.

But his answer wasn’t what I expected. Jesus wasn’t talking to me like the other men did. This man talked with respect. That took me by surprise, too!

He told me that he was God’s gift to the world. Well, I’ve heard that kind of line before!

And he talked about giving me living water— like a spring of water that continually would fill up a well until it was overflowing, a spring of water that would quench my thirst forever.

There was no end to the surprises of this man. Next Jesus dared to ask about my husband— and he already knew that I’d had five. How could he know? Had word about me traveled that far? Or.. was he a prophet, sent from God?

Now, one of the main disagreements between Samaritans and Jews is about worship. Jews say that you can only truly worship God in Jerusalem. But we Samaritans believe that we can worship God just as well right on our mountain— on Mount Gerizim.

Since I thought this man might be a prophet, I thought I’d see what he had to say about whether we could worship on Mount Gerizim. And he surprised me again! Jesus said that the true worship that God looks for is worship in spirit and truth— worship that’s honestly about God, and not about where we’re worshiping. It’s what’s in our heart that matters— not what place we’re in.

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