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Welcome to Trinity Episcopal Church, NJ!

March 19, 2017: The Third Sunday in Lent

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Readings of the Day

First Reading

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Psalm 95

    1
    Come, let us sing to the Lord; * let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
    2
    Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving * and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
    3
    For the Lord is a great God, * and a great King above all gods.
    4
    In his hand are the caverns of the earth, * and the heights of the hills are his also.
    5
    The sea is his, for he made it, * and his hands have molded the dry land.
    6
    Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, * and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
    7
    For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. * Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!
    8
    Harden not your hearts, as your forebears did in the wilderness, * at Meribah, and on that day at Massah, when they tempted me.
    9
    They put me to the test, * though they had seen my works.
    10
    Forty years long I detested that generation and said, * “This people are wayward in their hearts; they do not know my ways.”
    11
    So I swore in my wrath, * “They shall not enter into my rest.”

Second Reading

Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Holy Gospel

Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

Father Andy’s sermon at the 8 AM service

Lord God, through the written word, and the spoken word, may we know your Living Word; Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen

We have just heard the longest recorded conversation that Jesus has with anybody… If we were able to remain focused during that marathon text we would, no doubt, have become aware of the rich layers of meaning. The sheer volume of material here is why this text was used for preparing adult candidates for baptism; and that over a period of several weeks. How on earth is the poor preacher supposed to do this text justice is the several minutes allotted to the homily?!

The answer I suppose is simply to accept that I can’t do justice to the text. Instead I will limit my reflections to the theme of mission and how that pertains to the text.

I suppose that for many people the word mission still conjures up ideas of the intrepid missionary who leaves the comforts of the developed world and seeks to establish a church among the heathens. That traditional model seems to assert that the Church of God has a mission to establish the church all over the world. Near the end of the 20th Century theologians began to insist on a different perspective: They challenged the assumption that the Church of God has a mission and asserted rather that it is the God of Mission who has a church.

This may sound like a rather minor clarification but in the field of Missiology, the theological discipline of studying mission, the implications have been deeply significant and far reaching. Among the most radiant consequences is clarification that God has been, is, and always will be at work in the world. Our job is not to convert the world on our own. Our vocation as followers of Christ is to identify where God is at work, and simply make ourselves available to the Spirit.

That could be as simple and as non-threatening as making a donation to a worthy cause, or as challenging and dangerous as standing on the side of the poor and oppressed. The very first thought that came to my mind after reading the text earlier this week was: What a happy coincidence that the lectionary places the story of the woman at the well slap bang in the middle of our campaign to support the building of water wells in poor communities.

I trust that the Gospel text will encourage us to ‘be a drop in the well’ as we partner with Episcopal Relief and Development to bring clean water to poor villages. However, the text moves us well beyond the necessary and legitimate task of partnering with The Episcopal Church and with God to bring succor to those in need of clean drinking water.

Mission is about God’s relationship with the world and the text is directly about Christ’s conversation with a woman. This year’s Lenten Education Course, entitled ‘Speaking our Faith’, is an exploration into how we might begin to share our faith in conversation with others. In essence the course encourages us to consider how we might authentically communicate the mystery of God’s activity in our lives to those whom we meet.

This Gospel text offers us a fascinating window into how the woman at the well shared her encounter with Christ.

Fred B. Craddock the former professor of preaching and New Testament at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta articulates it so beautifully: She is a witness, but not a likely witness and not even a thorough witness. “A man who told me all that I ever did” is not exactly a recitation of the Apostles Creed.

She is not even a convinced witness: “Can this be the Christ?” is literally “This cannot he the Christ, can it?” Even so, her witness is enough: it is invitational (come and see), not judgmental; it is within the range permitted by her experience; it is honest with its own uncertainty; it is for everyone who will hear.

How refreshing. Her witness avoids triumphalism, hawking someone else’s conclusions, packaged answers to unasked questions, thinly veiled ultimatums and threats of hell, and assumptions of certainty on theological matters. She does convey, however, her willingness to let her hearers arrive at their own affirmations about Jesus, and they do: “This is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Allow me to conclude with where St John begins the narrative: The author of John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus “had to pass through Samaria” (4:4).

This is a need unrelated to geography or time; it must be of divine origin. In other words Jesus has had a nudge from God and is now going out of his way through Samaria.

Participating in God’s Mission is all about being sensitive to the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit. Like Jesus, it is about being willing to go with God’s nudge even if it leads us out of our way. May God grant us the sensitivity to perceive where God is at work and the courage to make ourselves available to participate in God’s mission. Amen.

Notes on the Readings

Welcome to our parish on this Sunday of the Samaritan Woman. This story is one of the classic biblical passages for those preparing for baptism at Easter. As the woman was gradually enlightened about Jesus and about her relationship to God, so the candidates are growing in their relationship with God during Lent. They look forward to receiving in baptism the “living water” of God’s Spirit in their lives. Those already baptized are filled with that living water and continue to be enlighted by God’s Spirit.

In the first reading, we move forward in the history of salvation from the call of Abraham and Sarah to the account of Moses and Israel in the Exodus from Egypt. On the occasion we read about today, God provides water for the people in the desert. This is an image of God’s loving care for all people in the spiritual dryness of this world.

The second reading is about the new life we have in God through Christ. Jesus gave up his life for us, in order that we might be put right with God. In his death and resurrection, the estrangement between God and humanity is being repaired. We, in baptism, have been reconciled with God.

The people in the desert thirst for water, so Christians find in their Lenten living the thirst for life that only God can quench. All of us, both the baptized and those preparing for baptism, are, like the Samaritan woman, being enlightened and filled with the grace of the living water that comes from our Savior.

Celebrant:
The Rev. Andrew David Kruger

Deacon and Homilist: Canon Clive Oscar Sang

Seminarian: Allison Burns-LaGreca

Verger: Anthony Francis Vitale

Organist: Anthony J. Rafaniello

  • Prelude: none during Lent
  • Choir Anthem: “As Pants the Deer” – Jonathan Adams
  • Postlude: none during Lent

Audio Files

The Worship Service

10 AM: Rite Two

THE LITURGY OF THE WORD

Prelude see above
Great Litany S # 67
Acclamation BCP 355
Kyrie S # 86
Collect of the Day BCP 218
The Lesson Exodus 17: 1-7
Psalm Psalm 95
The Epistle Romans 5: 1-11
Sequence Hymn H # 167
The Gospel John 4 5-42
Sermon Father Andy
Nicene Creed BCP 358
Prayers of the People
The Peace BCP 360
Announcements

THE GREAT THANKSGIVING

Choir Anthem see above
Offertory Hymn H # 149
Eucharistic Prayer A BCP 361
Sanctus S # 124
The Lord’s Prayer BCP 364
Agnus Dei S # 161
The Invitation BCP 364
Communion Hymns H 313, 338
Prayer over the People
Blessing
Recessional Hymn H # 690
Dismissal
Postlude see above