Third Sunday in Lent A

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my family and those whom God loves:

These are the designated texts for the Third Sunday in Lent (A). What follows is a brief summary of each text.
Exodus 17:1-7
† Psalm 95:1-9
Romans 5:1-8
John 4:5-30,39-42

Collect for the Day
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all who have gone astray from Your ways and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Summary: Exodus 17:1-7
Exodus 17:1-7 is one of many accounts where Israel complains about their situation and questions both Moses’ leadership and the Lord’s presence (17:7). In Exodus 16, the people grumbled about a lack of food and then in Exodus 17 they quarrel with Moses about having no water (17:1-2). Moses tells them that their grumbling is actually a testing of the Lord (17:2), but the people do not see it this way and direct their anger towards Moses, ready to stone him (17:3-4). Moses turns to the Lord in frustration and asks, “What shall I do with this people?” However, rather than punish these complainers, God in His graciousness does not deal with them according to their folly but instead, has Moses strike a rock and promises water from that rock (17:5-7). The account ends with the promise, calling forth faith in God’s Word – that it occurred as the Lord had promised. How often do we as the Church in whole or in part, complain about our hardships to our God-given leaders (pastors, parents, government leaders…) and thereby, indirectly to God also; testing God’s promise to provide? What should God do with us? St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians (10:1-22) connects this event to Christ: For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ (10:4). In His mercy, God covers us in the living water of Christ in our baptism that cleanses us from all sin, filling us with the Holy Spirit that we may trust God’s eternal provision in all circumstances.

Summary: Psalm 95:1-9
The Psalm reading from Psalm 95 (1-9) covers only the first nine of the eleven verses of this Psalm. Many of these verses make up the Venite, a canticle sung in the church’s liturgy as part of Matins or Morning Prayer. The Psalmist invites worshipers to sing and make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation (95:1)! We are reminded here of the Rock of the Exodus reading which Paul in First Corinthians (10:1-22) identifies with Christ. Rather than working worshipers into an emotional frenzy, the Psalmist directs them to the God we worship, the great King above all gods (95:3). He is our Creator who has formed us and yet, who has also made us the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand (95:7). What is most important though worship is not what we do or how excited we can get about being there, but that we listen to his voice and not harden our hearts like the people of Israel (95:7-9). Sometimes we struggle with coming into God’s presence in humility and joy, but our Good Shepherd is waiting to speak to our needs with words of forgiveness, comfort and hope.

Summary: Romans 5:1-8
As human beings it’s natural to avoid pain and suffering and complain about about when we have to face it. Like Israel in the wilderness, we don’t enjoy being thirsty. However, there are times when suffering is unavoidable. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans (5:1-8) points us to the source of living water in these times. Paul says that having been justified by faith and thus trusting in what Christ has done for us, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (5:1) and the hope of the glory of God amidst whatever circumstances we may find ourselves in. As we look to Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection, we can see that our own suffering is not the end and that God’s love and the Holy Spirit within us, can use the worst circumstances to produce endurance, character, and hope (5:3-5). In Christ, we see what God has done for us through God’s enduring love: God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (5:8). Christ’s own suffering and sacrifice is both our strength in these times of difficulty and the promise that all we face today will be overcome through Christ.

Summary: John 4:5-30,39-42
The Gospel reading from John 4 covers a long conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. Unlike most Jews who would choose to travel around Samaria when going from Judea to Galilee because the people there were consider unclean by Jews, Jesus chose instead, to travel through it. However, wearied by the trip (4:6) and without his disciples who had gone to get food, Jesus stops at a well to rest. It is here that he encounters a Samaritan woman drawing water by herself. Now most Jewish men would have had nothing to do with a single woman, little lone a Samaritan woman, but Jesus asks her for a drink (4:7) of water for he is thirsty. What follows is a rather involved and shifting conversation in which Jesus offers this woman the living water leading to eternal life (4:10-15). The woman is eager for it, but misunderstands its nature (4:15). Jesus then reveals the relational history of this woman, having had five husbands and currently living unmarried with the sixth (4:16-18). She acknowledges her sinful condition and considers that Jesus must be a prophet to know such things (4:19). Perhaps as a redirection, the woman shifts the conversation to Samaritan/Jewish theological differences which ends with this woman stating her hope for the coming Messiah. Uncharacteristically, Jesus reveals to her that he is the Messiah (4:25-26). The woman then leaves to tell others in her village about her encounter (4:27-30) with Jesus. Her witness leads many Samaritans to believe in Jesus as the Savior of the world (4:42). The openness of this Samaritan woman to what Jesus was offering stands in sharp contrast to the closed and stubborn nature of the people of Israel who neither repent or believe in him. Into this openness Jesus reaches out to her, leading her to recognize Him as the Messiah, and through her brings others to receive His life-giving water. Sometimes those further away from Christ can see the gift he brings better than those standing closest.

Grace be with you,

By PT Graff

A baptized child of God's, called to be a son, husband, father, citizen of Canada and heaven and a pastor.