O that today you would not hearken to his voice! Harden not your hearts.
COLLECT FOR PURITY
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
SUMMARY OF THE LAW
Our Lord Jesus Christ said:
The first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”
The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
There is no other commandment greater than these.
Amen. Lord, have mercy.
God is love and we are God’s children.
There is no room for fear in love.
We love because God loved us first.
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.
God our Father, we confess to you
and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ
that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
Forgive us our sins,
and deliver us from the power of evil,
for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
God, who is both power and love,
forgive you and free you from our sins,
heal and strengthen you by the Holy Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lent Prose by Sue St Joseph
we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves,
when we are discouraged by our weakness,
give us strength to follow Christ,
our pattern and our hope;
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen
PROCLAIMING & RECEIVING GOD’S WORD
EXODUS 17:1-17 read by Gill Swales
Water from the Rock
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 quarrelled 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 for 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?”
Amalek Attacks Israel and Is Defeated
Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some men for us and go out; fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’s hands grew heavy, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on either side, so his hands were steady until the sun set. And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a remembrance in a book and recite it in the hearing of Joshua: I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called it, The Lord is my banner. He said, “A hand upon the banner of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
Romans 5:1-11 read by David Kerr
Results of Justification
Therefore, 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. And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely, therefore, since we have now been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
John 4: 5-42 read by Reverend Janice Aiton
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John chapter 4 beginning at verse 5
Glory to Christ our Saviour
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 labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.”
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 Saviour of the world.”
Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel
Praise to Christ our Lord
We live in an instant society-instant access online, instant foods, instant money and instant news. When things go wrong with appliances or in life generally we are looking for an instant or quick fix. Quick fixes are not always possible, nor are they often the best solution. I want to introduce you to an author, who sometimes writes for the Bible series “Daily Bread.” His name is David McCasland. He tells this true story about a woman whose car was stalled at a crossroads.
The bonnet was up and she flagged David McCasland down to help. “I can’t get it started,” she said. “But if you jiggle the wire on the battery, I think it will work.” McCasland grabbed the positive battery cable and it came off in his hand. Definitely the cable was too loose. “The terminal needs to be tightened up,” he told her. “I can fix it if you have some tools.” “My husband says to just jiggle the wire,” she replied. “It always works. Why don’t you just try that?” McCasland paused for a moment, wondering why her husband didn’t ride around town with her so he would be available when the wire needed jiggling. Finally he said, “Ma’am, if I jiggle the wire, you’re going to need someone else to do it every time you turn off the engine. If you’ll give me two minutes and a wrench, we can solve the problem and you can forget about it.” Reluctantly, she fumbled under the front seat and then extended a crescent wrench through the window of the old car.
As he tightened the battery terminal, it occurred to McCasland how many times he had tried, in his own life, to get a “quick fix” from God. “I have this problem, Lord, and if you’ll just jiggle the wire, things will be OK. I’m in a hurry, so let’s just get me going again the quickest way possible.” But God doesn’t want to “jiggle wires,” He wants to take the time necessary to deal with our real problem and fix it. To get the long-term solution to the pressing needs in our lives requires more than a quick fix; it needs a complete surrender to God and a willingness to proceed on God’s terms. We must cooperate with Him in whatever it takes for as long as it takes. As the lady drove away with her tightened terminal, McCasland stopped for a moment and asked the Lord to say “No!” the next time he asks Him to just jiggle a wire.
More than just jiggling the wires was needed for another lady- the lady from Samaria in our gospel story. The story is not set at a crossroads but at a well. The village well was a popular place, where people gathered every day to draw water. People would come and share the news of the day. They would linger as long as necessary to hear the latest happenings. There were times when visiting teachers or preachers would address the people at the well. The well was the centre of activity in the ancient world.
Around the well, women would gather early in the morning before the heat of the day to catch all the local news before filling their jars with water and heading off home. Absent from this gathering of women was one lady who amazingly enough chose to come at the hottest time of the day when she was sure that no –one else was around. She felt it was better for her to draw water after all the others had left. Here is undoubtedly a lady with baggage and whatever the problem she has, you can’t help feeling sorry for her. She seems all alone and isolated. She may try and make herself invisible to others, but inside she is screaming for attention, love and companionship. She longs to be noticed and cared for, for all the right reasons.
Her life is all messed up-it feels empty and futile. Life said the critic James Huneker is like an onion. You peel layer off after layer only to discover at the end there is nothing at all- nothing except tears. I think the Samaritan woman might have agreed with that sentiment. Like most of us, she is looking for happiness, but unfortunately happiness kept on eluding her grasp. The current man in her life we are told was number six. Some advocates of the permissive society would hail her experience as a testimony to unfettered joy in sexual liberation but I am pretty sure that is not how Jesus or the woman herself saw it. She had hoped like many that love and marriage would make her life worthwhile, giving it meaning and direction. But somehow every relationship had turned sour on her. Each time she found a new man she had thought this is it -her Mr Right. She hoped that she would not make the same mistake again but she did, and the more emotional tragedy she experienced, the more onion like her life became.
Her onion like life is symbolised in the water jar. There it stood empty again. She had filled it yesterday. She would fill it tomorrow. It was like her life a never- ending thirst. She would spend the rest of her days filling that pot and at the end its appetite would be insatiable as ever. Empty. Empty again! Her water pot- spoke of her own empty life! This woman symbolises too- many in society – they may not have had the same difficulties in relationships as this woman had but their life too feels like an onion… empty except for tears.
Tears of emptiness, frustration and self- loathing from the Samaritan woman were after one single conversation with Jesus amazingly turned to tears of joy, hope, purpose and new life-a baptism into faith and newness of life. How did this transformation come about? Some would say by a chance encounter with Jesus- I do not think chance played a part at all. I believe strongly that the people we meet are for a purpose, and the fact that we are told that Jesus had to go through Samaria implies that this meeting with the Samaritan woman was no chance matter.
Let’s look briefly at the encounter. Jesus’ approach to this outcast woman was ever so gentle. He didn’t force himself into her life. In fact, he began from a position of weakness. He began with a request for water. In this way he disposed her to receive the gift he wanted to give her. His heart was already open to her. Now she opened her heart to him. A wonderful dialogue ensued and a marvellous conversation took place. He treated her with great respect. Not a hint of judgement. Right from the start he was looking into her heart, yet he did not make her feel bad. She didn’t feel judged. Rather she felt accepted and understood. No one had ever-paid such close and loving attention to her before. Jesus explained her life to her more sympathetically than she had been able to explain it to herself. Before she realised it, she had shared with him the story of her life. Jesus met her where she was. He said to her: ‘If only you knew the gift that God wants to give you.’
This gift that God wants to give us often eludes us because like the Samaritan woman we are a bit reluctant to admit our poverty, weakness and sins. If we are going to find Jesus’ answer to emptiness of which I have spoken, you have got to be willing to confess your need. You need to acknowledge sin in your life and have a desire to turn from following your own life priorities to embracing God’s priorities and values.
Sin is an unpopular concept in today’s culture but if truth be told, we all have skeletons in the cupboard. We all have things in our lives that we cannot remember without embarrassment. We all have thoughts lurking in our imaginations that would make us blush if they were displayed for public view. Jesus sees us as we really are, for our lives are transparent to his gaze. He sees our deeds and thoughts as clearly as he saw the Samaritan woman’s six love affairs. And he insists that we see our moral failures too, for the water of life that we are looking for is the gift of God and God gives it, by a policy to which he strictly adheres, to penitents only, to those who own their sin and confess it.
The Samaritan woman confesses all. She embraces this new life that Jesus offers. Her transformation happens in five rather simple steps. The first is a stimulated curiosity- who is this Jesus that asks a Samaritan woman for a drink. Heightened interest draws her to Jesus in the first place. He is approachable and gentle.
Secondly, she reveals a conscious need for transformation and newness of life- ‘give me this water.’ She doesn’t hold back she knows what she wants- she wants to be rid of this emptiness and loneliness. She wants transformation.
Thirdly she has awakened conscience-I have had five husbands and the man I am with is not my husband- she admits to Jesus her failure and sin. She doesn’t conceal her weakness and sin, or her longing for true love.
Fourthly there is a heart response that she makes to Jesus. She acknowledges that Jesus is a prophet, and throughout the conversation she progresses to the point where she acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah.
Fifthly and finally the Samaritan woman makes a commitment- she accepts the living water Christ offers. She leaves behind her water jar—a symbol of her empty life – her life is no longer empty but full and so she runs to tells others. She proclaims to others that she has found the Messiah. She acknowledges Jesus as Lord. She has given her life to him and He has given life to her and now the spring of living water dwells in her and satisfies fully her spiritual thirst and need.
In Jesus she has found the Messiah and her emptiness is replaced by living water- the fullness of life. What about us, is our thirst quenched or are we still jiggling with the wires in the broken engine of our lives? Are we prepared to let Jesus get to the root of our emptiness? May we in this season of Lent let God take his wrench of forgiveness and restore us to fullness of life. Amen.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the almighty, maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living
and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord,
the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.
with the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen
Lord Jesus, we thirst for your meaning, purpose and guidance
in all our work, worship and praise.
Fill us so full with your Spirit
that those we meet are drawn towards you.
Come Lord Jesus
and quench our thirst.
Lord Jesus with all the corruption and double standards
which damage and unnerve our world,
we thirst for your Spirit of truth,
purity and goodness.
Come Lord Jesus
and quench our thirst.
Lord Jesus, we thirst for your Spirit of love
which accepts us as we are
and yet seeks to transform us
into the people who have designed us to be.
Come Lord Jesus
and quench our thirst.
Lord Jesus, we thirst for your compassion
which binds up our wounds
supports the weak and frail,
and visits the imprisoned and afraid.
Come Lord Jesus
and quench our thirst.
Lord Jesus, we thirst for the living water
that springs to eternal life.
We ask that our faith in you,
might be deepened
and our passion for you, rekindled.
Come Lord Jesus
and quench our thirst.
Lord Jesus, we thirst for your Spirit of life
as we call to mind those who are sick and infirm
and ask that our healing touch and power
might lead to restoration and newness of life.
Come Lord Jesus
and quench our thirst.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your willingness
to meet the Samaritan woman at her point of need,
and to create a clean heart and right spirit within her.
As we journey though Lent may we know your presence
working within us to bring cleansing and holiness into our lives.
Come Lord Jesus
and quench our thirst.
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Do not bring us to the time of trial
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.
May Christ give you grace to grow in holiness, to deny yourselves, take up your cross, and follow him; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.
Bottom of Form