Rev. Katherine Todd
Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John”—although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria. 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.”
Psalm 63: 1-8
O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
Valentines Day is Wednesday. The shops are already full of red and pink gifts. Hearts are everywhere. Candies and chocolates, roses and jewelry stock the shelves.
But Valentines Day can be a tricky business.
Even couples who have known one another a long time still struggle to find new ways of expressing their love and devotion.
Ads tell us jewelry is the answer. Beautiful images of beautiful couples in beautiful places make love look easy.
But those of us who’ve loved or been loved know the story has many more shades. Love passes through days of sunshine and warm breezes as well as the days of winds and storms and pelting rain. Love knows all seasons.
And so Valentine’s Day is much more than what its marketed to be.
And for those in seasons and years and lifetimes of singleness, whether by choice or by circumstance, Valentine’s Day can feel like a giant conspiracy to make you feel bad about your life.
What I want to say today is that there is intimacy available to us in God that far exceeds the human intimacy we may know in this lifetime.
I say this to no way diminish the value of human love. Love is a precious gift! It changes us. It stays with us. Love can give us life and sustain us! So if you have experienced love in this lifetime that blew you away, that changed everything, that opened your eyes and heart to things you’d never known before,… know that this human love is a glimmer, a glimpse into the height and depth and breadth of God’s love for us.
And so as we approach this holiday celebrating love, let us remember the One who loved us first. Scripture reminds us that
because God first loved us.
So if we want to know love beyond human understanding…
If we long to belong and feel cherished…
If we yearn to show love to those around us…
we need to spend time basking in the love and presence of God.
Who else has gone to hell and back again to show us that NOTHING in all of creation can separate us from the love of God?!
So in moments alone, our God invites us.
In the sweetness of the morning, our God is calling.
In the quietness of a starry night, our God whispers to us.
In the embrace of a cozy bed,
in the warmth of a fuzzy blanket,
in the delight of comfort food…
In fierce protection,
in justice won,
in truth spoken…
In eyes that see,
in firm words of correction,
in loving hands that guide…
In the knowing eyes of a dear friend,
in the warm embrace of a loved one,
in midnight conversations when the ground beneath us is trembling….
In all these moments,
through this wondrous creation, in beautiful works of art, and food made with love…
In the kindness of strangers, the love of family, the thoughtfulness of a friend, the tenderness of a lover….
Our God is showering us with love.
The Giver of all good things is delighting in you.
You, who God has made on purpose and without mistake.
You, who God knows entirely, without your speaking a word…
You are God’s chosen, God’s delight!
And it is not because of anything you’ve done or not done.
God loves us because of who God is.
And so on this Valentine’s Day, remember
that all our loving,
all our compassion and care,
all acts of love
find their beginning in God – who made this world and all that is in it and called it all GOOD!
And may we let this incredible love draw us closer
Invite us deeper
Lead us further
Into that fullness of life, that quality of life that makes life worth living!
Christ came that we might have life and have it to the full! Christ came to give us that eternal life Jesus spoke with the woman at the well about, that gushing up from within quality of life. Now when we hear the word eternal life, most of us may think of the afterlife & think that’s the end of story, but that is only PART of the story. In fact, the Greek word translated eternal life is Aionios, and it means an age-long, unending, not brief or fleeting, and it means quality. So when you read eternal life, know that it’s referring to that non-fleeting quality of life that Christ ushers into our lives. Eternal life is that enduring fullness of life, springing up from within like a fountain, quenching our deepest thirsts.
It’s not a hyper-spiritual thing. It’s not a disembodied thing. It’s not life with our spirit on fire and our hearts, minds, and bodies on ice.
Our God MADE our hearts and spirits, our minds and our bodies, and God called them good!
quality of life,
wholeness of life,
is life in the full– involving every bit of us – body and soul, mind and spirit.
Our God wants to give us the juicy good life!
It is not a life without pain. It is not a life without struggle or fight. It is not life that turns a blind eye to injustice or evil. But is it life that can be made to grow even through ashes, even through the rocky soil of injustice, even among the thorns of our sins that ensnare us… Our God is actively speaking life into these dry bones, raising up beauty from these ashes… The God who raised Jesus from the dead is still alive and moving and working and living in you and in me.
May we tune our hearts to God.
Listening for God’s voice
Recognizing God’s love, poured out
Rejoicing in the new life God can bring even from pain.
And knowing, down deep in the depths of our souls,
Just how unfailing,
how faithful and enduring
is the love of God we’ve been shown in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And so I invite you, as you listen to this next song, to let it be for you a prayer,
A prayer asking God to meet you – in all the ways that matter most –
And to ever keep you
within the strong and tender arms
of a divine and matchless love
that knows no end.