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                     A message from St. John the Baptist.       View this email in your browser
Services Update  March 22, 2020
Bishop Susan has informed us that there will be no in person services through at least Easter Sunday.  The Diocesan web site has a number of alternate ways to worship. The link is
http://www.thediocese.net/news-and-events/covid-19-resources/ Father Tony is working on a way to have a short service online with possible phone join in if you do not have internet.  You will be updated when more information is available.
Father Tony's sermon is below the Prayers of the Parish. 

Prayers of the Parish

In our worship, we pray each other's prayers together, and in our daily lives may we also pray the prayers of the parish community.

We pray for members and friends of our church community, including:
Margaret Anderson, Ed & Maggie Benz, Lori Boles, Rod Devlin, Larry Gibson,
Claude Johnson, Krista and Jesse Madden, Gary Miller, Rev. Tige Newell, Jeffery Shaver,
Ruth Shaver, Sonny Sprouse, Gary Stevens, Sue Suchora, David Uhl,
all those fighting the COVID 19 virus, those heroically providing their care,
and all those in the community working to help those in need.

 

Have an addition?  Reply to this email and let me know!

Father Tony's sermon prepared for the March 15th service that was cancelled:
  Text: John 4: 5-26  Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 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]

Introduction:        

   This Gospel story, if you read the whole narrative, seems as long as the Passion Narrative we, hopefully, will read on Palm Sunday. But what a message for us, especially as we in this nation and folk around the world struggle to contain and to limit the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

        
There are at least three messages hope for us in this time of crisis:

 

1. First, once again we are called by our Lord to "drink from the wellspring of faith".  In scene one of this story, Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink of water from a well on a plot of land given to Joseph by his father, Jacob.   Water and wells were so very important for  the patriarchs and their families in the stories of these nomadic tribes.  In Genesis 29:1-14, Jacob comes to a well in the middle of a field, and the well is covered by a huge stone.  There are shepherds there with their flocks, and as Jacob is talking with them, Rachel, a kinsman's daughter, arrived with her sheep.  Jacob tells the shepherds to roll back the stone from the mouth of the well so Rachel's sheep can drink, but the shepherds refuse, saying that they can't do that until all their flocks are gathered together there.  So Jacob goes to the well and moves back the stone by himself so that Rachel's sheep can drink. Now the water is available.

 

      This is really the whole theme of this Gospel story; it is the story of the opening of the well of eternal life--now!  The One who provides, who is the 'living water', provides divine life in the present time.  So we are called to drink from this wellspring of living water--now.  I remember, years ago, when I went on a retreat to the ecumenical Monastery at Taize, France, I came upon an astonishing scene: the Iron Curtain put up by the Soviet Union had recently collapsed, and the pent-up thirst of thousands of young people for a drink of spiritual water had come to the well of Taize's springs of hope--5,000 folk each week that summer!  It was so inspiring to watch them soak up the teachings of the monks and volunteers--available to all, across national, ethnic and racial divides!

 

     In this Gospel story, there are several stones of discrimination and disbelief rolled back,  The Samaritan woman represents Jesus' reaching out to all God's children.  As a Samaritan woman, she was despised by the Jewish nation, for Samaritans were deemed to be 'unclean', having intermarried with foreigners.  And, she was a woman, and a rabbi was never to address a woman in public.  Tsk! Tsk!  As Agatha Christie's Miss Marple would say: " It's just not done"!  
 

 2.   In scene two of the story, the woman, who has just witnessed Jesus break the religious and social barriers between them, and is already confounded by this, is the more astonished when Jesus says to her: " If you knew the gift of God and who is saying 'Give me a drink', you would have asked of Him, and He would have given you 'living water'".  Jesus offered her not just a slaking of physical thirst, a temporary fix, but water gushing up to eternal life.  Which is to say that just as we need water to provide our bodies with the necessary hydration, we need this living water to nourish our souls.  We need to drink from the cup of faith.  Jesus' message:   Ask for the living water of faith and trust!
 
    There is a wonderful and compelling teaching here. Jesus asked for a drink of water, but before the woman even gives Him a drink, He gives her the water of life that never runs out.  John Shea quotes the poet Rumi on this point: " Not only the thirsty seek water; the water as well seeks  the thirsty".  Jesus' message: He is the living water and bids us come to the well of faith.

 

   For Jesus, however, the issue was neither her nationality or religious persuasion or her gender---it was the woman herself, one of God's children.  His message?  All God's children deserve the living water of eternal life.  So, He rolled back the stones of intolerance and mysogyny. God's kingdom is all-inclusive.
 

    Ever felt left out, that you didn't belong?  There have been more than one times that I have gone into a gathering, a party or conference, and felt out of place--and no one invited me to join in. The woman at the well probably felt like that.  And then, someone reaches out to you to welcome you!  The stone of isolation is rolled back.  Jesus did that for the Samaritan woman and the message for us all is that the living water of Jesus' love is here for us all---now!  

3.   In scene three, the Samaritan woman, hearing Jesus tell her that she has had four husbands and the man she is with is not her husband, says to Jesus: " Sir, I see that you are a prophet."  Note that: whereas she once saw Jesus as just a Jewish man who needed a drink, now she identified Him as a prophet!  She perceived that Jesus had uncovered her history of broken promises, and now He has offered her a new vision: the only vision she had, as a Samaritan, was to see a life ahead that found its only hope in worshipping the God of Abraham at the ancient shrines of Bethel and Shechem in Samaria, not in Judea's Jerusalem.  Is Jesus telling her that she should now go to Jerusalem to find true worship and new hope?  No, said Jesus.  He told her that neither in Jerusalem or on the mountain was there a priority site for worship---the real site would be in one's heart, in spirit and in truth.  Which is to say that true worship is a work-ship by one who trusts in the Lord and in that trust presents oneself to God, warts and all!  
 

    In her book " Pilgrim at Tinker Creek", Annie Dillard wrote: "Anybody who really thinks about life and seeks wisdom, ends up in botany, and what botany teaches us is that there is a deep down determination in nature to bring life into being, no matter the odds".  Even when, as in our current crisis of a pandemic, nature seems to be in opposition to us, the water of hope is always with us, for the living water of faith never dries up.  After all, as Jesus said: ' God is the God of the living, not the dead!  
 

   Marlk Trotter. in his book " When the Door Closed" written in 1978, tells of the great volcanic eruption on the island of Krakatoa in 1883.  Half the island blew up! The other half was covered in volcanic ash, in some places 100 feet thick, and that ash, carried by the winds, was blown as far away as Madagascar, across the Indian Ocean.  Up to that time, it was the most violent volcanic eruption recorded in history. All life, human and animal, was destroyed on Krakatoa.  Yet,10 years later, the island was once again green and beautiful, with dense jungle where barren ash had fallen.  What happened? Microscopic bits of matter, tiny living cells, were carried to the island where they settled in the fertile ash.  When these cells had multiplied and died, the nitrogen fertilized the ash, and when seeds blown by the wind landed on the ash, they found a happy place for life to flourish. The message: the future is always open, and God is able to use the past, no matter what we do in it, to build a tomorrow of hope. 
 

Conclusion:

     In the final sentence of today's Gospel, the Samaritan woman testified to her friends in Sychar: " He told me everything I have ever done".  They would have been amazed that Jesus could read her mind, that He knew this woman's whole life, in all its turbulence and dead ends.  They, too would see Him as a prophet.

     But I have a hunch that, as the last sentence put it: "We know that this is truly the Savior of the world", they saw Jesus as their hope because they had witnessed what He had done for the woman and what He could do for them: really give them the living water of new life and hope.  They saw that, because she had met Jesus, out of the ashes of her life had come the promise of a future filled with the nutrition of forgiveness and acceptance.  No wonder that they asked Jesus to stay with them--and He did.  
 

    What a story! Messages of hope given us in the time when things do seem bleak!  But, as always, the living water of God's life in Jesus is here for the asking.  We are welcomed to this well of hope and acceptance and love--now!  Thanks be to God.  

 

       

                                                                                                                      Faithfully, Fr.Andres
 
 
 

  

                  

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