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Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church
March 7, 1999
Rev. Daris S. Bultena
3rd Sunday in Lent

Old Testament Lesson: Exodus 17:1-7
New Testament Lesson: Romans 5:1-11
Gospel Lesson: John 4:5-42

The Power of Touch

All she thought she would do is draw a little water from the well. It was a chore to be done and she did not expect to even speak to the man who was sitting there.
She was a Samaritan. Samaritans and Jews were like oil and
water---they did not mix. Not at all. In fact, they held each other in
contempt.
On top of it--she was a woman. She knew her place. No woman was entitled to initiate a conversation.
She would just draw her water and keep moving.
But this man--a man she had never seen before---this man who's name she did not even know---spoke to her.
"A drink. Give me a drink..."
"You are talking to me?"
"If you knew.... .....living water.... The water that I give will become in them a spring of living water gushing up to eternal life."
"Sir, give me this water...."
And the conversation goes on....this is the longest narrative in all the Gospels. The conversation goes on to the point where the woman's life is completely changed.
Its all turned in a different direction.
She thought she was coming to the well to get a bucket of water.
She left the well that day with a whole new life.
Look at the woman---so often we have read this text in the past with the slant that the woman was morally corrupt. Having had five husbands and the man she was with now was not a husband.
Notice Jesus does not judge that arrangement. In that society this woman has in essence been passed from person to person. She did not have rights to own property, she hardly even had a right to an opinion let alone anything else.

And Jesus zeros right in on the problem with her life---its was not her morals, no the problem with her life was the valuelessness. She was not worth anything to anybody---she was not even worth marrying. She was the bottom of the barrel. And Jesus takes her in. He invites her into a new world.
And how does he do it?
That's the real power in this story.
How does Jesus change and transform that Samaritan woman's life at Jacob's well that day? How?
With words!
With words.....
....and with nothing else. Jesus does not do anything in this text but speak.
He touched her with the words.

Verse 25: 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."

Verse 26: Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."

How does Jesus change and transform that Samaritan woman's life at Jacob's well that day? With words....
"....I am he..." That Word announces her worth.

Oh the power of touch---the power of being touched with the redemptive Word of Christ.

***

Yes, God uses those Words---that Word---to touch us, to transform us in the very same way that the Words transformed that woman at the well. The woman was open to Jesus touching her and transforming her. The walls of her existence fell down and a new world was opened up. The Language of Faithfulness calls on us to be just as open. Those words of faith can be like life giving, water drawn from the well of eternal life.

*

"I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

Just words, but words that have the power to touch us.... and change us because we have been born anew. God's grace has reached all the way down and claimed our lives. And we see that, and we hear that with those washing waters and Words of the Baptismal act.

We are knit together into the family of God--brothers and sister born into the covenant and grace of God's eternal love.

"I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

Those words of faith can touch us like life giving water drawn from the well of eternal life.

*

"This is my body which is broken for you." "This is my blood, shed for you."
Just words, but words that have the power to touch us.... and change us. Simple words, plain white bread, and watery grape juice. But its more---much more. Those words, that meal, they change us. We drawn into the fullness of grace, the fullness of Christ giving his very own self on our behalf. Broken for us. Shed for us. His act on the cross becomes personal. Done for us. And we are to hear it that way and receive it that way.
Jesus went to the cross for you and for me. "This is my body which is broken for you." "This is my blood, shed for you."

Those words of faith can touch us like life giving water drawn from the well of eternal life.

*

"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth."
Just words, but words that have the power to touch us... and change us. Worship is about the place where we are - not the building, but where we really are - where our heart is.
Where our mind and soul are - dwelling in the Spirit and the truth.
If we just are going through the motions - rehearsing the rules - that isn't real. No, real worship comes from our hearts, from our feelings, from the inside.
"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth."
Those words of faith can touch us like life giving water drawn from the well of eternal life.

*

"Believe the Good News of the Gospel, in Jesus Christ you are forgiven."
Just words, but words that have the power to touch us... and change us.
The past is over and gone. Our sins are forgiven. We are set free to start all over again. As a people, as individuals, as a world, the forgiveness of God is real. We need to hear it as real pardon - real assurance that we have been forgiven. "Believe the Good News of the Gospel, in Jesus Christ you are forgiven." Those words of faith can touch us like life giving water drawn from the well of eternal life.

*

"Come to me all you who labor and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."
Just words, but words that have the power to touch us... and change us.

We tend to live so stressed, and so bogged down with worry. It is the way of the world. It is, but Jesus the Living God, enables us to live in this world but not according to its dictates. We don't have to live so bogged down in the mire of the burdens we carry. Christ lifts those off of us. He helps us carry the load. We do not have to make it on our own. He is always there - he can be trusted on and relied on for help.

"Come to me all you who labor and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."
Those words of faith can touch us like life giving water drawn from the well of eternal life.

*

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." "Do this and you will live."
Just words, but words that have the power to touch us... and change us.

Love. It is at the center of all that God is, all that God wants us to be. God is love. Love God. Love each other.

When we love, when we let love show, when we deliberately make a decision to be loving - then we becoming the people God intends for us to be.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." "Do this and you will live."
Those words of faith can touch us like life giving water drawn from the well of eternal life.

*

"I am he...."
Just words, but words that have the power to touch us... and change us.
That woman at the well had her life transformed by the one who asked her for a drink of water. That same Jesus comes to us today, and tomorrow, and forever - and right now he invites us in to a new day and a new way of living. Jesus announce that we are loved; Jesus announces that we are on the heart of God.

The walls of our existence, the walls of our isolation - they just fall away in his presence. Christ just melts them away like wax. We are not trapped and hemmed in by the world and circumstance - we are set free to life and love and eternity.

"I am he..."
Those words of faith can touch us like life giving water drawn from the well of eternal life. Just let Jesus touch you - his Words - his love - him - Let him in.

Amen.