Sermon: Lent 3 RCL A – “Forget”

Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well by Paolo Veronese

If a company were to commission a study on forgetting things, which company would be the most likely candidate? I would tell you, but I’ve forgotten. No. It is 3M, the parent company of the Post-It Brand, the maker of those brightly colored sticky notes, technically called “repositionable pressure-sensitive adhesive sheet material.” It is estimated that 50 billion of those little sticky notes are created yearly, and I’m a significant contributor to their use.

In the study, it was learned that 56% of men rely on their spouses to remember important things, and over 50% of the women stated that their spouses forgot something important. (Never mind the fact, according to the same study, women are more likely to lie about forgetting something.)

On average, we forget four things daily, totaling 1,460 items per year. A spokesman for Post-It said, “Our days are so jam packed full of tasks whether at work or at home, it’s no surprise people find it hard to keep track of everything. With much longer working hours, financial concerns and just busier lifestyles, even those with the best memory can stumble when it comes to remembering even the most simple of things during a hectic day.”

The top five things forgotten:
– Forget what you went into a room for
– Misplacing keys
– Forgetting things on your grocery list
– People’s names when you’re introducing them
– Where you put your pen (Source)

We forget things; however, forgetting certain things helps us remember others. There’s quite a bit of science behind it, which does not pertain to forgetting where you put your keys or the effects of dementia and other diseases of the mind, but we forget these additional items because we don’t really need to remember them, and in forgetting, it makes our memories more efficient.

So, with all that talk of memory and forgetting, let’s test yours. Where did Abraham’s servant meet, Rebekah, a wife for Issac? He met her at a well in Haran. Where did Jacob first meet his wife, Rachel? He met her at a well, also in Haran. Where did Moses first meet his wife, Zipporah? He met her at a well in Midian. Do you see a pattern? And today, Jesus meets a woman at the well.

Most women would come to draw water early in the morning or late in the evening, but this Samaritan woman went to the well at noon, the hottest part of the day. Why? As Jesus points out, she has had five husbands, and the man she is with now is not her husband. She likely came to the well when she hoped not to encounter anyone else so that she would not be condemned, criticized, and made to feel ashamed. However, when she arrives, she is met by a Jewish man.

Jews and Samaritans do not associate, and a Jewish man would never address a Samaritan woman. Never. Yet, Jesus says to her, “Give me a drink.” From there, the conversation goes back and forth. Why are you talking to me? How will you draw water? Are you greater than Father Jacob, who dug the well?

She came to the well hoping to avoid others because she knew she would be condemned. Seeing a Jewish man, she probably expected to be ignored entirely or severely condemned. Yet, Jesus spoke to her and pointed her closer to the truth about herself, who He is, and what He has to offer: living water. At first, as she listens, she desires this water that Jesus offers because she believes she will no longer have to return to the well and endure the shame that others pour upon her, but then she begins to understand what Jesus is offering.

Remember Jesus’ words from last week? “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” The woman begins to understand that Jesus is not talking about water that can be drawn from a well in the ground. She says, “I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” At that, the woman realizes that the well of the Living Water is Jesus, Himself.

Just then, the disciples return. As for the woman: she “left her water jar and went back to the city.” She forgot her water jar. When she forgot it, was it just one of her four things she was going to forget that day, and all she needed was a post-it note to remind her, or did she forget it because it was something she no longer needed to remember? Not only did she forget her water jar, but she also forgot how others condemned her and that many likely hated her. She forgot the criticisms and the shame she felt because, instead of running away from and avoiding the people of her community, she did just the opposite—she ran to them. Finding them, she said, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”

She came to the well that was Jesus and drank deeply of the Living Water. The waters of redemption and salvation, of love, mercy, grace, compassion, and more. She drank, and in drinking—like Rebekah, Rachel, and Zipporah—she met her spouse by a well.

In the 19th chapter of his Revelation, St. John writes,
“I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.’”

The woman at the well believed and, in believing—she who had had five husbands and was currently living with a man who was not her husband— became a Bride of Christ. She discovered and was wed to the only One who could bring her true happiness and the peace she had been searching for her entire life.

We, each of us, are like the woman at the well. Condemned by Satan, ashamed of our sins, and criticized by our own thoughts and others, but like the Samaritan woman, we can forget our water jars. We can leave behind the bitter poisonous water and come to the Living Water of Jesus, and we can choose to drink the Living Water that is freely offered. In drinking, we are joined to Christ as His Bride. In drinking, we become a new creation. In drinking, we are redeemed and saved and can experience the Messiah’s love, mercy, grace, and compassion.

Forget your water jar. Don’t write yourself a post-it note. You don’t need to remember it. Forget it. Drink the Living Water from the well that is Jesus and enter into this new and eternal life given to you by God.

Let us pray:
Come, all who are thirsty
says Jesus, our Lord,
come, all who are weak,
taste the living water
that I shall give.
Dip your hands in the stream,
refresh body and soul,
drink from it,
depend on it,
for this water
will never run dry.
Come, all who are thirsty
says Jesus, our Lord.

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