Now Jesus had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
John Chapter 4:4-16
Last year I participated in a Diocesan river pilgrimage. Although it was my first time in a canoe, I enjoyed it. The trip was a first in many ways for me. By the time of the journey, I had been the priest at our church for four years, and I could count on my fingers how many times I had visited the water (meaning being in the water) near our town. So when our guides told us that we would canoe through parts of the Pawcatuck River and eventually that canoeing would lead us into the bay and mouth of the Atlantic Ocean- I was intrigued.
I didn’t realize that the trip was to be an important one for me and my understanding of ministry in Westerly. Seeing Westerly from the water helped me to see how important water is for our community. Looking at the boats, the ways the buildings and people interact with the water, noticing Riverbend Cemetery, and understanding how we in the town have adjusted to the flow of water was insightful. One insight is that the water will do what the water wants to do. One can fight it, or one can flow with the water adjusting to its rhythms. Ultimately though the flowing water always wins. The residents of our town have learned to “flow” with the rhythms of the significant water sources around us. Because of this, we can thrive as a community.
In Jesus’ interaction with the Woman and the well. Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit of God as “living water”. This is an exciting and important distinction. God’s Holy Spirit in the New Testament, like water also “flows”. God’s spirit is always moving, sometimes gently and sometimes with overwhelming force, being able to make a way even overcoming obstacles.
The Woman sitting at the well in conversation with Jesus has been through a hard life. In her dialogue with Jesus, we understand that her “rough, sassy, cynical exterior…” masks a heart that seeks love and acceptance. Her life can be summed up by that appropriately named country song “Lookin’ for Love in All the Wrong Places.” As she spends quiet time sitting with Jesus, God’s Holy Spirit makes its way through all of her defenses, helping her find a lasting love to the source of all creation – God.
Friends, we live in one of the most beautiful areas of the country near large beautiful bodies of water. As we spend time near these places of flowing water over this summer let us take some quiet time, sitting with Jesus in contemplation. Perhaps as we engage in prayer and in reading scripture (maybe even readings for the following week) we would be able to reflect on how God flows in our own lives. The Living water of God, may make its way to give our thirsty souls the refreshment that it needs.