Last week we were with Nicodemus
as he was puzzling and confused over Jesus’ telling him
that he needed to be born again.
This week we are at the well with a woman
who is also puzzling and confused.
She is puzzled because here is this man, this stranger, this Jew, this Jesus--
and he is speaking to her, a woman, a stranger, a Samaritan.
This is just not the protocol.
The woman’s puzzlement does not become less before it increases.
This man Jesus is telling her
that he can show her the way to “living water.”
That she will never be thirsty again.
For a woman of this region and this time period,
the prospect of not having to make all those trips
to and from the village well,
to never again have to lug those heavy buckets of water,
or never worry about the well will go dry--
this deep well of living water that Jesus speaks of
sounds like a dream come true.
The woman’s puzzlement turns to surprise
when Jesus knows about the history of her matrimonial relationships.
Jesus is not judgmental.
Jesus is just telling her what is true about her life.
A truth that others might never say—at least not to her face.
The most amazing thing about this story is that the woman is not afraid of Jesus.
She does not slip away in the night like Nicodemus.
She does not depart from him sadly like the rich young man.
But she does not run away—
she runs toward something that Jesus has awakened in her.
She runs to tell others the good news.
She runs to share the gospel—
for gospel is just a word that means “good news.”
She leaves behind her bucket of ordinary well water
and dashes back to her village
to tell others about the “living water” she has found.
The Samaritan woman has escaped her prison of acedia.
Acedia. That’s A-C-E-D-I-A.
It’s not a word we use much in our daily conversation,
but it is definitely a state of mind that we see a lot these days,
in others and in ourselves.
Acedia is sometimes equated with sloth or laziness.
But it’s different than being a couch potato
or one who never gets around to vacuuming the whole house
or getting the oil changed in the car.
Acedia is apathy
The early Christian fathers called it “life robbing dreariness or sadness”
Acedia is a “couldn’t care less” attitude.
It’s the shrugging your shoulders and saying, Whatever.
I read that acedia is definied by theologians
as an unpardonable sin entailing a total loss of grace.
That was shocking to me.
Having a “whatever” attitude is considered an unpardonable sin?
We so often think of sin as being things we do that we shouldn’t do.
But sin can also be things we do not do when we really should.
Things done and left undone.
Sin can also be just not caring whether something is done or undone.
God did not create us to not care.
God created us to care deeply and compassionately—
for one another and for God.
God created us to be like the woman at the well—
Perhaps a bit skeptical at times, owners of a bit of a ragged history,
but once we experience living water—
through baptism, through Eucharist,
through worship, through mission or outreach—
the expectation is that we will run
and tell everyone we meet.
With great joy!
The expectation is that our lives will overflow its banks
with the love of God.
Living water does not come in individual, pop-top cans.
Living water comes as a wide free-flowing river
of God’s grace and God’s love and God’s peace.
It is that river of God that feeds deep wells and sparkling streams.
God’s river has room for everyone.
Even a Samaritan woman. Even you and me.
Jump in! shouts the Samaritan woman.
Drink! invites Jesus.
On occasion when we are just too weary to swim,
God says, just come on in, honey,
Lay back and float.
God will hold us up.
Whom do we know that needs to know about the river of God?
We are called to go home and make a phone call. Today.
Invite someone to come with us to church next week
or just call and say hello. How are you?
You have been on my heart and in my prayers.
I care about you.
When was the last time we ourselves jumped in that river?
The season of Lent is not about staying dry sitting up on the shore.
What desert places in our lives need to be refreshed by living water?
The best cure for acedia is to stop thinking about ourselves
and to think about someone else.
The best cure for acedia is to help someone else.
It can be a random act of kindness
or it can be an intentional act of reaching out with compassion.
The call to all of us this third Sunday of Lent
is to run from this place !
Go into the community—our village.
Go out into the world---our bigger village--
and share the good news.
We are called to share the good news in Word
and to share the good news in deed.
We are called to drink deeply
And to offer others to drink with us.
If we accept that challenge,
if we replace “I couldn’t care less”
with “I can always care more”
the world will not die of thirst.
and neither will we.