September 2, 2007
"A Chance To Drink"
Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn
There was a cartoon I saw sometime back which showed a little boy kneeling by his bed saying his bedtime prayers. He prayed: "As you know, God, Monday is the first day of school. I hope you won't lose sight of me in the crowd. Amen."
Then he climbs in bed, thinks for a minute, and then crawls out again and adds to his prayer: "Oh, and by the way God, I'll be the one wearing the red shorts and a Dallas Cowboys T-shirt."
Like this little boy, the woman in the passage for today, needed someone to see her. She had lost sight of her own life and was sure that God had, too. She was thirsty beyond measure and needed to drink deeply of what only god can offer. Let's look at her story in John 4:5-29. (NRSV)
 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?"
This woman at the well had never had a Chance to Help, A Chance to Sing, A Chance To Dance or A Chance to See. No one had ever thought she was worth much or even worth enough to invest in either singing lessons or dance lessons. As a consequence she didn't think much of herself and went from one bad relationship to another.
And in one sense at least, she was just like blind Bartimaeus, she needed to see. She needed to see what those choices had done to her. But I think even more importantly she needed someone to see her. To see her for who she truly was and who she could become by being who God created her to be. She needed someone to see her and Jesus did.
He not only saw her but he offered her a Chance To Drink. To Drink from the great fountain of life, the well that gushes up like a spring within our hearts and spirits. The well that will never run dry.
Up until this encounter with Jesus this woman's life was a complete train wreck. She's was at the well to draw water at noon because no one else, especially none of the other women in town, would be there. Everyone generally came as early as possible. At noon she didn't have to put up with their stares and snide comments.
Take the train wreck of her life, her trouble maintaining meaningful relationships, the issue of self-worth and you can see how empty this woman was. This Interruption On The Journey became a Divine Appointment.
Recently I read a story about a little boy, Johnny, whose mother, unknown to him, planned a surprise birthday party for him. When he got home, he went upstairs to his room. While he was in his room his teacher, all the kids from his class, some neighbors and friends gathered in the living room. His mother called up to him but he didn't answer. So she called again. Still no answer.
Finally, Mom went up to his room to get him but he was gone. He had climbed down a tree outside his window and was hiding in a nearby park. The rest of the children, along with the adults, went on to enjoy a good time, but Johnny never turned up. When he came in for supper his mother asked where he had been; he had missed a wonderful time, planned just for him. He tearfully confessed he had heard her call but hid until supper time because he thought she had some chores for him to do! (1)
How sad. He missed his own party because of fear. There is no telling how many surprise parties God had planned for the woman at the well or how many she had missed. But she didn't miss the one that took place that day. God kept calling but she wouldn't answer, so God became one of us and personally invited her. She finally accepted and her life was filled with the refreshing water only Jesus can offer. Water that satisfies that deep thirst we all have.
How many times have we been invited to the surprise party God has planned for us only to miss it because we're too busy or we can't be bothered. Or like the little boy, we hide out of fear because we think God is going to smack us up alongside the head for the horrible life we've lived.
When in reality there's a party being prepared. The guest list is all inclusive. No matter how many parties we have missed before, we don't have to miss out on this one. The One who is throwing this party is loving, gracious, generous, merciful and forgiving. We're all invited even though there is nothing in this world we can do to repay our host. All that's asked is that we accept the invitation.
From a worldly point of view, there's not much in the way of refreshments. There's no cake and ice cream, no BBQ, no hot-dogs and hamburgers. No, there's just a little bread and little wine to remind us of both the sacrifice the host made for us and the deep the love which the host has for each of us. Oh, yeah, there is plenty of water, too.
And yet, this bread and wine and water are more than enough. You see, those are the only ingredients you need for this All You Can Eat Buffet of God's Grace which we find at God's party.
I heard the voice of Jesus invite me to the party. I heard the voice of Jesus invite me to drink the water He offers, water from the well that will never go dry. A part of me was like the woman at the well, dry and thirsty. But I heard Him offer me a drink, and I took it.
That day at the well, Jesus knew all there was to know about me, more than I wanted to admit. But he showed me where to drink so that I could quench the incredible thirst in my life. And when I drank from those waters, I knew for a certainty that I was forgiven.
When I drank from that well that never runs dry, I knew God loves me and because of that I learned what the woman at the well learned, I was given the assurance that MY sins HAVE been forgiven. I don't ever have to worry about that again. As Romans 8:16 says, "it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God."
Not only that, but like the woman at the well, I was also given the assurance that I'd never have to face any aspect of life alone. The Holy Spirit constantly reminds me of what God said, "I will not leave you or forsake you." And of what Jesus said, "I will not leave you orphaned."
The invitation to the party, the invitation to drink deep from the well that never runs dry is there for you, too. Don't run and hide. Don't let the confusion of life hold you back. Don't let the burden of guilt that you carry stop you from coming, God wants to help you get rid of that guilt. God even wants to help you get rid of the baggage you carry through life.
So, like the woman at the well, come to the water. This is your Chance To Drink, so drink deep.
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