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Third Sunday of Lent Year A 2020

1. As reporters feverishly report on where the coronavirus came from

2. As doctors struggle to understand what its effects will be.

3. As our leaders wrestle with when things like schools, churches and whole cities should close,

4. It had to happen, sooner or later;

5. Clergy of different persuasions are weighing in as to why it is all happening.

6. Brace yourself;

a. They are saying it is another plague sent from God to punish transgender people, Chinese communists and people who are gay.

7. OF course, not everyone is saying this; but some are;

a. And in this century where we have already thought that the world was going to end at least twice:

i. with Y2K in 2000,

ii. or with the end of the Mayan calendar 2012;

b. where many continue to expect the end of the world

i. whenever Greenland icecap melts

ii. or if the current president is reelected;

8. In a world where we are so constantly afraid,

a. it is not surprising that such statements would gain traction.

9. Such statements are meant to get our attention;

a. but not just so that the minster or the rabbi who makes them

b. gets more hits on their social media platforms.

10. No they make them because they truly believe in what they are saying;

a. or rather they believe that these statements are useful

b. to get across to frightened people what they truly believe

c. and get us to believe it to.

d. And in many cases what they belive

is that there is something wrong with our world.

e. And whether that is communism or socialism,

f. lgbtq rights or women’s rights or whatever,

g. They want it to stop,

h. And to go back to a time when divisions and roles were clear;

i. When “us” meant “us” and “them meant them.”

11. They seek to divide the world; because only in that way, they preach and want us to believe, will we be safe.

12. And it is hard to argue with such fears;

13. and hard to resist the pull of the security that division offers.

a. I mean who here has not already begun to pull back

i. into the trusted circles of friends and family?

b. Who here has not already begun to avoid

i. buses and trains, with their unknown people?

c. Who here has not struggled to stifle a cough or a sneeze,

i. or recoiled in horror when someone next to us does not?

14. No, the spread of the coronavirus,

15. the lack of information due to slow government response,

16. and our fear that one day we might become ill

17. is driving us to exactly to toward the future

a. so many of the fear mongers in our society want

b. a future which looks like the past;

i. where it was clear who was one of us and who was,

ii. you know one of them.

18. One of the big dividing lines beginning to snake through our society is food and drink.

a. In church we have had to stop sharing the chalice;

i. the very symbol of our unity

ii. sacrificed to the division disease inevitably causes.

19. People have begun to hoard groceries;

20. and who here would not think twice before drinking water

a. which comes from someone we do not know?

21. Evidently Jesus.

a. For he asks for well water in today’s Gospel.

22. Of course Covid 19 is not at issue here;

a. no, something far more divisive is.

23. For this well is in the land of Samaria;

a. And for Jesus’ people, the Samaritans were at best half Jews

i. who had their own temple on mount Gerizim,

ii. and worshiped God in their own, unclean way.

b. The person he asked for water from was an uncleanSamaritan

i. And to socialize with an unclean person would make you unclean too.

c. This person was a woman;

i. And she was hanging out at the well during the middle of the day, long after respectable women would have drawn their water and gone home.

24. For any self-respecting, Law abiding Jew,

a. this well was a source of contagion;

i. maybe not biological;

ii. but certainly, religious, ethnic and cultural;

25. Anyone with half a brain would have rather gone thirsty

a. than to drink from this well.

26. But not Jesus.

a. He goes right up to the well

i. and asks for water from this unclean, Samaritan woman.

27. He acknowledges her sinful past,

28. he remembers the past divisions between her people and his.

29. But then he reveals to her . . . the future.

a. And the future will not be like the past.

30. In the future there will be no division between unclean Samaritan and clean Jew.

31. In the future all people will worship the one God everywhere

32. and they will do it together.

33. This future should have frightened this Samaritan woman,

a. because it would mean mixing with those she had been taught to fear.

34. It should have made her want to run back

a. to the security of her people,

b. the safety of her community,

c. the hallowed divisions of her past.

35. But it doesn’t.

a. instead she runs and tells everyone she can

b. about this Jesus and the future he represents.

i. She becomes the first evangelist to the Samaritans!

36. We know this conversation with Jesus was vitally important to her.

37. And because it is the longest conversation Jesus has with anyone in the Gospel of John,

a. we know it was vitally important to the people who first read that Gospel.

38. But because this conversation and that Gospel were included in the Bible,

a. we know that what happened at that well that day

i. was and is vitally important to the Church;

39. Because they saw, what that woman saw, and what Jesus wants us all to see;

a. That the only real future is not retreat into the divisions of the past

b. be they ethnic religious cultural or political.

40. we know that the only real future for any of us is Jesus’.

a. And it is that future which Jesus shares with a Samaritan woman

b. And the Church shares with us by telling us this story

i. on this fear plagued third Sunday of Lent, 2020.

41. There is no doubt about it;

42. When Every doorknob and handrail

43. When Every cough and sneeze

44. When Every meeting we take and person we see in the street

a. is a potential a source of contagion

45. When we have no idea the degree to which

a. the closures and the postponements,

b. the hand sanitizer and social distancing

i. have impeded the number of infected people

46. It is logical to fear.

a. And in that fear to listen to those voices which seek to manipulate us.

47. But as Jesus so often said to his first followers, FEAR NOT; we will get through this.

48. One day in the future we will look back on this frightening time.

49. One day reporters and politicians will refer to it,

50. and seek to draw lessons from it

a. And so must we;

51. Indeed, we already can;

52. For the first lesson we must draw is Jesus’

53. And that is that the only real future is Jesus’

a. And when we listen to him as we do this Lenten Sunday,

b. and put his words into practice

i. We live God’s will for us and for our world

ii. and offer our fear plagued world right here and now,

1. a vision of his future.

54. It is the future we celebrate when, despite social distancing, we gather around this altar.

55. It is the future we glimpse when, despite fear of infection,we turn to each other before communion and say, not “Good morning” or “how are you”, but “peace be with you”.

56. It is the future we live in when despite quarantines and possible lockdowns, we take what we practice here and practice it out there;

57. and share Jesus’ future with our frightened neighbors, coworkers and friends.

58. That future isn't easy – it never has been. But take a look around at the mess our old world is in.

a. Look at what has led to it.

b. Look at what it has led to.

59. And ask yourselves – is there any other future you’d rather live in?

60. If the answer is no, well then let’s begin to live in that new world.

61. It begins right here - right now.

62. It always does.

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