First, I have to give major mad props and shout outs to my girl Melissa for bringing us such amazing week of baptism. It was a joy for me to read everyday as well as a huge relief to my brain. If you haven’t read her posts yet, please take time to do so this week. Because they are incredible.
I needed that break and she helped my soul be well. Thank you my dear friend. You are amazing and I’m so thankful to call you my friend and my soul mate.
This week, we will be discussing finding joy in the everyday living.
Generally, Lent is known as a season for individual self-examination, penitence, and “giving something up” as a spiritual discipline. It seems to be primarily inwardly and negatively focused. It’s commonly seen as being about what’s wrong with me as an individual and what I’m willing to do to improve myself.
While self-examination and some individual work are part of the work of Lent, the early church developed Lent to be primarily “other-focused.” Lent was created as the final leg of intense preparation and support for people who had chosen to learn to live the way of Jesus. It was kind of a finishing school for people who were preparing for baptism and lifelong Christian discipleship.
The church in the West (like, Western hemisphere, not the wild West or the city in Texas called West) had begun to fall away from a clear focus of personal formation for this season by the Middle Ages. From that point forward, essentially until Vatican II, Lent in the Western Church, whether Roman Catholic, Protestant, or Anglican, had taken on a more “generically penitential” view of the season. In other words, Lent had become an extended season of “navel-gazing,” self-deprivation, and generally feeling bad about yourself for being such a bad person the rest of the year.
That feeling changed with the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, most of which were then also carried out by Protestants and Anglicans around the whole world. The early Christian approach to Lent as a season of intentional formation and baptismal preparation has been moved to the forefront of the Lenten focus.
While being penitent is a healthy practice, it should not be our main focus for Lent. Our main focus should be others.
Jesus calls us into the wilderness to be uncomfortable. Jesus calls us into the wilderness to explore how we can be living water to the world through our baptisms.
John 4:4-42 tells us exactly what to do for others when we hear the story of him and the Samaritan woman at the well.
Jesus had to go through Samaria. He came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, which was near the land Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus was tired from his journey, so he sat down at the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me some water to drink.” His disciples had gone into the city to buy him some food.
The Samaritan woman asked, “Why do you, a Jewish man, ask for something to drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (Jews and Samaritans didn’t associate with each other.)
Jesus responded, “If you recognized God’s gift and who is saying to you, ‘Give me some water to drink,’ you would be asking him and he would give you living water.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, you don’t have a bucket and the well is deep. Where would you get this living water? You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave this well to us, and he drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will never be thirsty and will never need to come here to draw water!”
Jesus said to her, “Go, get your husband, and come back here.”
The woman replied, “I don’t have a husband.”
“You are right to say, ‘I don’t have a husband,’” Jesus answered. “You’ve had five husbands, and the man you are with now isn’t your husband. You’ve spoken the truth.”
The woman said, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you and your people say that it is necessary to worship in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you and your people will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You and your people worship what you don’t know; we worship what we know because salvation is from the Jews. But the time is coming—and is here!—when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth. The Father looks for those who worship him this way. God is spirit, and it is necessary to worship God in spirit and truth.”
The woman said, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us.”
Jesus said to her, “I Am—the one who speaks with you.”
Just then, Jesus’ disciples arrived and were shocked that he was talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” The woman put down her water jar and went into the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done! Could this man be the Christ?” They left the city and were on their way to see Jesus.
In the meantime the disciples spoke to Jesus, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
Jesus said to them, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.”
The disciples asked each other, “Has someone brought him food?”
Jesus said to them, “I am fed by doing the will of the one who sent me and by completing his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘Four more months and then it’s time for harvest’? Look, I tell you: open your eyes and notice that the fields are already ripe for the harvest. Those who harvest are receiving their pay and gathering fruit for eternal life so that those who sow and those who harvest can celebrate together. This is a true saying, that one sows and another harvests. I have sent you to harvest what you didn’t work hard for; others worked hard, and you will share in their hard work.”
Many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s word when she testified, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. Many more believed because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this one is truly the savior of the world.”
Be like the woman; be vulnerable and open to meeting Jesus face to face, and take joy in the experience. Be living water for others and you too will be fed.