On this third Sunday in Lent, we have the privilege of knowing the end of the story—that resurrection and new life are a reality. In my imagination, Easter Sunday is a day of collective exhale, a day to bask in hope, sing loud the hallelujahs, and glimpse Jesus, who calls us into a future with hope.
In the meantime, we continue the journey in stages: to the cross, to the grave, and finally to experience the resurrection. The Lenten journey is an opportunity to consider how our hearts have hardened, how our hearts have gone astray, and where we have lost our hope along the way.
Poet David Whyte commented in an interview on the program On Being that our younger self has done something for which our future self is thankful. He asks how we can be the ancestors of our own future happiness. Those seem appropriate questions for us as a journeying people heading toward Easter Sunday. As an observer of Lent, what fear can I release so that I will fully celebrate the joy of Easter Sunday? What can I forgive now so that my Easter self will be thankful? What am I trying to control along my journey that makes it impossible for me to be fully at peace at the end?
Like the Israelites, Moses, Jesus, the disciples, the woman at the well and her community, we walk a journey that winds in and out of wilderness and abundance. We carry burdens of fear and shame; we long to have our deepest needs known and met. The good news is that God desires for us to have soft hearts and honest encounters so that we can enter God’s rest. Today, pause and notice your feet on the path. Remember God’s faithfulness. Dare to look forward with hope. Your future self will thank you.
Rock of Salvation, we long to enter your presence and your promised rest with thanksgiving. Renew our hope at each stage of the journey. Amen.
Three of the passages this week connect water and faith. In Exodus and the psalm, we read about the Israelites grumbling in the desert. Although they have seen God’s mighty deeds in Egypt, they have begun to question God’s provision for them. God provides water through Moses, but the place is remembered (and named) as a site where the faith of the people fails. In John, however, a place to draw water becomes a site of salvation for the Samaritan woman and eventually for the people in her village through her faith. The reading in Romans goes a different direction. Paul emphasizes the importance of faith in the face of trials and the fact that God brings salvation through Christ when fallen humanity has no other hope.
Read Exodus 17:1-7. How do your memories of God’s provision sustain you through tough stages of your spiritual journey?
Read Psalm 95. What object, image, or memory serves for you as a symbol of God’s faithfulness?
Read Romans 5:1-11. How have you found hope in stages of life when God is forming your character through suffering and endurance?
Read John 4:5-42. When has letting go of your expectations or rules allowed God to work freely in your life or in the lives of others around you?
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