Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sunday, April 10 2011

John 11:1-45
1  Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  2  Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill.  3  So the sisters sent a message to Jesus,  "Lord, he whom you love is ill."  4  But when Jesus heard it, he said, "This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God's glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it."  5  Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,  6  after having heard that Lazarus  was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.  7  Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again."  8  The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?"  9  Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world.  10  But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them."  11  After saying this, he told them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him."  12  The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right."  13  Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep.  14  Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead.  15  For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."  16  Thomas, who was called the Twin,  said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."  17  When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus  had already been in the tomb four days.  18  Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles  away,  19  and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother.  20  When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home.  21  Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  22  But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him."  23  Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."  24  Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."  25  Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live,  26  and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"  27  She said to him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,  the Son of God, the one coming into the world."  28  When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you."  29  And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him.  30  Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him.  31  The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there.  32  When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."  33  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.  34  He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see."  35  Jesus began to weep.  36  So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"  37  But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"  38  Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.  39  Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days."  40  Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"  41  So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, "Father, I thank you for having heard me.  42  I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me."  43  When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"  44  The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."  45  Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

            The amount of cultural energy that is spent denying the reality of death is extraordinary.  If we could somehow transform that energy into fuel for cars and homes, you could say goodbye to ever-rising gas and oil prices, of that much I am certain.  I cannot tell you how we got to this place, culturally, how the only real certainty about life became not an enduring reality to be encountered but a minor if certain inconvenience to be managed away.  We almost seem to treat death as a sort of failure, rather than the inevitability that it actually is: it is though dying itself could be overcome if we only found the right mixture of dieting, exercise, and medicine.  That no human has yet bested death seems to more a reflection of human failure rather than an accepted reality which none of us will avoid, no matter the time that we spend trying to pump youth back into our bodies.   Now of course the progress that has been made in extending and improving life is, in and of itself, a good and God-given thing.  No one, myself included, would want to go back to a time before modern medicine, but the point is that we often ask of these more than they can ever give us.  A good diet and steady exercise are a poor way to achieve immortality, but such is what we expect on some level.  So when people do, culturally speaking, fail, that is, they die,  we tend to have them do so privately so that we might not be remind of this reality: we ask people to die quietly, sterilely and out of public view. This charade cannot last, though, and we all know this.  No matter our attempts to contrary, Lazarus’ fate awaits us all, and death, that truth we cannot manage away, rages back at us from the neat confinements that we have established for it. And not an approachable and generous death, but the sort of death that is debilitating in its effects on a family, the kind of death that renders you numb and wordless in grief, the sort of death that is devastating because it is so very final.   
In short, the sort of death that these two sisters, Mary and Martha, are experiencing.   Lazarus, the one whom Jesus had loved and their brother, has died. Look, if you will, at how very real their grief is.  They can not cover up it with hollow cliché and empty sentiment.  No, their pain is too urgent for that.  So when Martha sees their beloved Jesus approaching, this Jesus who had cured the blind and fed the hungry, she greets him with this message: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died, but even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of Him.”  What to make of such a statement?  Is she right?  Is this even a fair accusation to put at Jesus’ feet? Would Jesus’ bodily presence when Lazarus fell ill have somehow saved him from death?  Or is it the expression of one who simply trying to make sense of  what seems a random and meaningless death?  Whatever the purpose behind the question, please note first what Jesus does not do.  He does not chide her for grief, as if somehow being a disciple of Christ implies not feeling real pain or loss.  Nor does he attempt to offer some theological explanation for Lazarus’ death.  The “why” behind the question remains unanswered, but both the death and its attendant grief are accepted as real, as true.  This is even more clear as Jesus greets Mary.  She cannot get out one sentence before she begins to weep.  To this, Jesus himself begins weeping.  Weeping for the loss of his friend, weeping for the grief that is now extravagantly on display in his other friend, Mary.  Yes, the savior of the world, the God made flesh, meets this loss with a heart darkened by grief.   
And it is precisely into this grief, this undignified, sloppy and tender grief, that Jesus speaks and enacts the ultimate word of promise: “I am the resurrection and the life.”  Yes, this is one of those circumstances in which the context is just as important as the words themselves.  For it is precisely as Martha and Mary grieve the real loss of her brother that these words are spoken.  It is not into some thin and approximated grief in which the full emotional toll is being kept at a safe distance.  No, Jesus gives the promise of the life eternal right in the midst of undignified mourning, a promise of resurrection spoken to a woman with eyes blood shot and puffy from tears and a voice hoarse from wailing.  This promise of the life and the resurrection hangs in the same air that is putrid and weighed down with the stench of Lazarus. So true is the promise of life eternal in Christ that it cannot be spoken any other way. 
And so let us not fool ourselves or indulge in empty fables.  We all know death to be real, and we sit under its heavy and cruel sentence.  We mourn in fresh and potent grief those who have just died, and we sit silent in the desiccated grief that has accompanied us for months if not years.  A sudden flash of memory, brought on by a smell or a song, brings the whole mess back to us with disorienting force.   And admitting the reality of these things, this is not a sign of a weak faith or of human failure.  As we have seen, being a follower of Christ, joining the ranks of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, well, this does not insulate one from emotional hardship and pain.   Nor are these realities somehow an indication that God has left you or is punishing you.  For remember that the Christ himself wept at his friend’s tomb, wept with the sister who could not stand because of grief.    No, living the truth of this pain is the mark of honest living, and the Gospel always commends honesty, honesty about ourselves as those who tremble in the face of death and honesty about the Christ who stands at edge of death calling with a mighty voice that the stone must be unrolled, that the stone must be unrolled. 
While you might not undergo the same miracle that yanked Lazarus out of the tomb, be comforted by this reality, dear people of God.  The same Christ whose word called forth his friend has already done the same to you.  At the font, in those waters of baptism,  Christ stood and proclaimed you his own, giving you the life eternal from which death cannot snatch you.  No, this does not appease the  physical reality of death,  nor does it make it, our own or our loved ones,  any less real, any less devastating, but it does suggest that while death in all of its terrible reality is genuine, it is not final, not the last word.  For that Word, that last and final Word, well that belongs not to us in our fear, or in the decay of our bodies, but to the Christ and him alone.  The final word belongs to the God who stands with us in our grief, the God who weeps right along side us, the God whose heart breaks at the death of those whom He loves.  Yes, the final word belongs to the God who refuses to live without you, the God who will hang on a cross and then go ahead and conquer death, hell and the devil, so that you may never experience this God’s absence.  Yes, the final word belongs to the Christ, the one who waits on the borders of death to call your name, proclaiming with a gentle and authoritative voice that you must “come out” of your tomb, for you are to be resurrected by the God whose love knows no limit, not even the limits of the grave.  Rise then, dear people, for Christ has called you by name.   In the sweet name of Jesus, amen. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 3, 2011

John 9:1-41
1  As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth.  2  His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"  3  Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; So that God's works might be revealed in him,  4  we  must work the works of him who sent me  while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.  5  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."  6  When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man's eyes,  7  saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.  8  The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, "Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?"  9  Some were saying, "It is he." Others were saying, "No, but it is someone like him." He kept saying, "I am the man."  10  But they kept asking him, "Then how were your eyes opened?"  11  He answered, "The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, "Go to Siloam and wash.' Then I went and washed and received my sight."  12  They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know."  13  They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind.  14  Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes.  15  Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, "He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see."  16  Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?" And they were divided.  17  So they said again to the blind man, "What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened." He said, "He is a prophet."  18  The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight  19  and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?"  20  His parents answered, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;  21  but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself."  22  His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus  to be the Messiah  would be put out of the synagogue.  23  Therefore his parents said, "He is of age; ask him."  24  So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, "Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner."  25  He answered, "I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see."  26  They said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"  27  He answered them, "I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?"  28  Then they reviled him, saying, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.  29  We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from."  30  The man answered, "Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.  31  We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will.  32  Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.  33  If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."  34  They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?" And they drove him out.  35  Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"   36  He answered, "And who is he, sir?  Tell me, so that I may believe in him."  37  Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he."  38  He said, "Lord,  I believe." And he worshiped him.  39  Jesus said, "I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind."  40  Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, "Surely we are not blind, are we?"  41  Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, "We see,' your sin remains.

This week’s Gospel reading puts us directly and perhaps a bit uncomfortably close to our ability to deceive ourselves, to avoid seeing that which we do not want to see, to make of the world a projection in which our own previously conceived notions are again given form.  Yes, our ideas about right and wrong, good and evil, sight and blindness, to simply make the world the arena in which what we already know to be true is played out.  This is a profound danger that I cannot help but believe we all live into in some ways.  Year after year of making decisions related to our work and family, of evaluating and responding to other people’s behavior, of seeing the consequences of our actions and other people’s actions in the world, all of this sort of accumulates in what we might begin to call a world view, a way of ordering and filtering everything that we encounter on a daily basis. And the way we view the world affects just about every facet of how we interact with it: how we treat strangers, who receives our political votes, what churches we attend, or what type of food we put into our bodies.  Yes, all of these decisions are ways that we express how we understand right from wrong, truth from falsehood. The question, I guess, is what happens when this world view, when what we know to be right, when that is all brought into crisis?  When the once solid moral ground on which you stood begins to shift underneath your feet?
This sort of crisis is an inevitable part of living.   Everything from death to divorce to the birth of a new child or other unexpected blessings prompts this sort of reflection.  So, there is really no point in further exploring the reality of these sort of interruptions.  What is more interesting, I suppose, is how we respond to them, even when they do not happen to us.  The Pharisees in this reading, then, sort of provide a case study for how we hope that we do not react when what we presume to be true is suddenly called into question.  So, if you are a fan of the religious establishment, this is by no means a happy day.  In fact, the leaders of the Jerusalem Temple, by the end of this story, will end looking like fools, practitioners of the very sort of blindness and hardness of heart with which they have tried to mock both Jesus and this man born blind.  From our perspective, standing a considerable distance from this story, their motives seem alarmingly straight-forward and the question is how they could possess such a stunning lack of self-awareness.  They come off as petty and incapable of putting together a coherent and sustained case for why this healing is not the work of God in flesh.  Rather than admitting that this Jesus does not fit their worldview, that he does not conform to their expectations of the Messiah, they do everything that they can to force him into their worldview and this means, ironically enough, rejecting him.  In the world of the law, where God’s presence is the result of a rigid adherence to the rules, where God will only show up when the proper boundaries between right and wrong, religious and profane are maintained, and when those who obviously suffer God’s neglect, those like beggars and the blind, when they are kept at the necessary distance, yes in this world of ever increasing boundaries, there is, simply put, no room for this Jesus. Actually, to be fair, that is not entirely true.  There is a place for Jesus in the religious leaders’ world, and they will do everything in their power to get him there, but we get ahead of ourselves.  
And what, exactly, is this scandal?  Why are the religious leaders so offended by this man, so convinced that he is not the Messiah but rather the worst sort offender against God?  Why is this Jesus one of those worldview type shattering events?  Yes, this Jesus who sees in the man born blind not an occasion to join in the condemnation that was constantly heaped upon him, but rather sees this man as yet another chance to proclaim and enact God’s goodness and mercy? Well, the answer that they give is that Jesus is healing on the Sabbath and therefore breaking religious law and custom.  Which is true as far as it goes, but it is sort of like complaining about an inch long scratch on a new car that someone gave you.  So, what is really going on here?   Perhaps here we see that old human inclination, that old stubbornness, reasserting its ugliness.  Yes, perhaps the religious elite see all too well what this Jesus may mean for them: the end of their power and privilege, a death to their control over whom God is allowed to love, the end of their determining who is in and who is out.  Maybe that entire system, what we may call humanity’s blindness, wherein we set ourselves up as judges and arbiters of God’s grace, maybe, just maybe, is being torn asunder in this Jesus and his healing.  
The incredible and tragic irony of this story is this: had the religious leaders not instantly condemned both this Jesus and the man born blind, they might have seen that Christ, too, had come as a light to them.  That this man who can turn human saliva and dirt into agents of healing and mercy, that this man could heal them, as well.  Heal them from their fears that God would leave them if they did condemn those who failed to live up to their standards.  That this Christ could heal them from their unquenchable and not wholly satisfying pursuit of status and power.  That even though his presence meant the end of their reign as minor gods, that did not mean the end of God’s love for them. In fact, this Christ breaking into their midst meant that a new freedom had come: the freedom to stop finding all their meaning and purpose in their status and wealth, the freedom simply to be loved by Christ and then go love others.  Yes, the shattering of this worldview was perhaps a gift that Christ had come to give through his grace. How tragic, then, the elites’ cynicism of this Jesus.
Yes, we can be certain that there is no such thing as a neutral encounter with Jesus.  Whenever he shows up in our midst, our worldviews in all of their theological, political and social aspects are bound to be shaken to the core.  Fear not, dearly beloved, for  these are merely the birth pangs of the new sight which you are receiving.   For this same Christ, this one who comes among us to heal and forgive, to comfort and console, yes, this Christ who comes to give you the vision to perceive the infinitely compassionate heart of God, this Christ is bound to cause a problem or two when he encounters our world of fear, mistrust and decay, and that he does so, that he destroy death with life, that he replaces fear with comfort and anxiety with acceptance,  well this is what we can begin to call the Gospel.  Yes, this the second gift that the man born blind receives: not just the gift of physical sight, but the gift of realizing that this Jesus, this man of infinite compassion and care, this man who cares for the lowly and the outcast, this friend of the broken and the distressed, this great lover of humanity,  this is who God actually is.  This is the true sight that the man born blind finally receives: it is the sight that receives the Christ in faith and hopes on nothing other than his promises.  It is the sight that prompts him to fall on his face in worship of the Christ of infinite love.   It is, in short, the same sight that God gives you day after day after day as the Christ abides with and in you.  For the vision that Christ creates in you in the vision to be absorbed by a God of infinite love and splendor.  It is the vision that accepts the love of God as sheer grace, as an utterly free gift of God in Christ Jesus, and therefore a gift that does not create boundaries but defies them.  This is the freedom of true sight.  In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

March 27, 2011

John 4:5-42
5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. 7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." 8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9 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.) 10 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." 11 The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?" 13 Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 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." 15 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." 16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come back." 17 The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, "I have no husband'; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!" 19 The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem." 21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 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. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." 25 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." 26 Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you." 27 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?" 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 "Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?" 30 They left the city and were on their way to him. 31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, "Rabbi, eat something." 32 But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." 33 So the disciples said to one another, "Surely no one has brought him something to eat?" 34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35 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. 36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, "One sows and another reaps.' 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor." 39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I have ever done." 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 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 Savior of the world."
If there is one entity in this world of ours that is in shorter supply than money it is time, and this much I am sure that we can all agree on.   While the demands on our time increase with no sign of slowing down, the amount of time, unfortunately cannot keep up with the demand, and so we live like maniacs, hurriedly commuting to and from work, attending work functions, grocery shopping, working out, squeezing a little bit of time with the family whenever it is possible.  Day planners and to-do lists take on a nightmarish aspect as we look at the tasks that need to be accomplished and question aloud just how all that is asked of us is going to get done.  It often feels as though the world itself were on a treadmill and just when we believe that we have caught up to the necessary pace, someone hits the accelerator.  So, we do what we can to cope.  We multitask and organize with a religious fervor.  We connect with friends online.  We take what little free time we may have and cram as much “quality” time into it as we possibly can.  We catch up on phone calls while we are driving home from work and interrupt that phone call to pick up the take out food we ordered for dinner.  All of this creates a deep cultural anxiety.  We may not have any idea where we are headed, but we can be sure that we will arriving there with speed. 
The deeper question, I suppose, is how do we relate to God and our neighbor under this threat of ever-decreasing time?  Here I mean not necessarily making time for God in terms of prayer, Bible study, etc., as important as those things are, and yes, they are vitally important to our lives as Christians.  But rather, how do we begin to understand who God is when we have so little time and when this force of immediacy makes getting through the day a huge victory?  I guess the question that I am asking could simply be put in this way:  has this shortening of time conditioned us to the point that it is really, really difficult to even understand what it means to talk of God as something that exists outside of space and time?  In the same way that someone who has been out at sea for a long time has a hard time walking on the land, I wonder if we have inadvertently lost a sense of the eternal through our anxious focus on the immediate present.  I mean, what does “eternity” mean when we can barely make it through the day, much less the week?
These questions provide an interesting backdrop to the lengthy discussion between Jesus and this unnamed Samaritan woman.  Now, as we observed last week, John is a pretty complicated story-teller and there are always multiple layers to his narratives.  To say that there is a lot going on in this story is to speak in pretty gross understatement.  Knowing, however, that we will not cover all that is here, Jesus, too, is interested in this question about time and about how time is marked and measured.   So Jesus, here in hostile territory, left alone by the disciples who have gone into town to stock up on supplies, meets this woman, this woman coming to the well in the midday sun, this woman who could have never anticipated that this simple and routine trip to the well would quite literally result in a life changing experience.  You see this woman who, though she goes unnamed will be, by the end of the story, an apostle of the Christ, she is, I think, living in the same sort of time that we are.  While the pace was clearly a lot slower, what with no running water, to say nothing of automobiles, smart phones and all the rest, she is doing what we do: she is going about her daily routine, and she is abruptly interrupted by Jesus at the well, who initiates a conversation that he really should not be having.  Yes, her initial astonishment that this man, this Jewish man, is talking to her, reveals the scandal of the situation: a man should not be talking with a woman out in the open like this, to say nothing of a Jewish person and a Samaritan woman having this conversation.  This dialogue does not border on the scandalous; it blows right through the social and religious decorum of the day, hence the disciples amazement when they return on the scene.  Yes, so initially, this woman is interrupted by an encounter that could get the town gossip mill churning, but that is really only the beginning.
For as the dialogue with Jesus unfolds what emerges is so much more than a clash of ethnic and religious difference, it is quite literally a clash between the human and the divine. Jesus’ presence at the well is nothing less than the encroachment of divine time into the mundane and routine experience of this woman’s life.  Even as the woman does not quite understand what this conversation is about Jesus tells her the following:  “the hour is coming and is now here.”   Yes, the hour, the divine hour of God showing up in the flesh, of God taking the every day and the mundane and turning them into the theatre of his activity, the hour in which a trip to the town well can become the occasion to meet God in the flesh.  In the person of Jesus Christ, this hour is now here.  Given how incredibly jarring this is, we should not be surprised that the woman resists it, for we do the same.  “I know that the Messiah is coming,” says the woman, but there is yet a more gracious word to be heard.  There is no need for this dear woman to consign her hopes to a nebulous future.   It is not just the Messiah is coming, it is that he is already here, right in this present moment; what she anticipates as a future event is right there in front of her, asking for a drink of water.  Yes, this Christ is on the scene and because he is, divine time, the eternal, has been let loose in the present moment.   Time’s present tense, the grind of routine and sameness, this is now the vehicle for God’s activity, for the Christ has come in the flesh. 
The hour is coming and has already come.   What does the eternal mean for us who seem to have less than 24 hours in the day?  Well, in this Jesus, in this Christ, the harvest is already ripe.  The eternity that we will inhabit, that gushing spring of living water, that has been poured over into the present, for wherever Christ, there, too, is this living water.    Believe me, dear people, if I could give you more time in your days to spend with your loved ones or simply doing something that refreshes you, I would.  Unfortunately, these genie-like powers were not granted to me at my ordination.  So, this I cannot do.  What I can tell you with the utmost certainty though, is this: the hour is coming and has already come.  Christ is already here, already with you and will by no means ever leave you, no matter your rush and your worry, no matter the fact that our daily planners often look like a cruel practical joke.  No, the living water, the Christ who breaks into our present lives as they actually exist, he is with you in the routine and the mundane, in the compression of time and in the scurrying about that we call living, and while Christ’s presence does not somehow cut our “to do” lists in half, his presence among us  provides the strength necessary to do what needs to be done, to know that our future is ultimately in him and his sweet love and forgiveness.  Yes, that our futures, in this Christ, have already met us in the present tense, and that the eternal love of Christ has invaded this present time that is marked by anxiety and fear.     For Christ poured his living water over your heads at your baptisms and he waits to again give you his living presence at the table.  So come forward, now, come and take this love eternal into your bodies.  For your future in Christ is waiting to meet you.  In Jesus’ name, amen.