Scripture Reading: John 4: 5-30
This has been quite a week. Not since the horror and tragedy of 9/11 can I recall a time in my life where there has been such unprecedented events taking place like we have experienced these past seven days. It is stunning the way COVID – 19 has captured our attention on a global scale. We now realize, if we didn’t already, just how interconnected our world is in the 21st century. This virus has made its presence known in most every country and every aspect of life; decisions have been made about the way we gather and the precautionary measures being carried out; institutions and businesses have been closed; toilet paper in hot demand and short supply. The way we will interact over the coming weeks is changing. It is known as social-distancing from one another in order to keep ourselves from becoming infected. And then there’s the matter of those who will need to self-isolate for the recommended two-week period and what tolls this will take psychologically and economically remain to be seen. People in our community are doing this as we gather this morning.
The news can be a source of angst and anxiety for many of us. There are so many unknowns and we wonder how human behavior will be changed because of this. I read one tweet on my Twitter feed this week that called the outbreak a Pandemic of human disappointment. Canceled trips, art openings, sporting leagues and tournaments, concerts... all things folks have been planning for, working toward and excited about – all shelved for another time… that is a lot of grief on top of sickness.
I want you all to know that our denomination has been keeping on top of COVID – 19 developments and communicating with faith communities in our Region regarding what we should be doing to keep ourselves safe. Church closure as of today has not been recommended. I am hopeful that we will be able to remain “open” throughout this time when people will be looking for comfort and solace. And we hope this can happen when we all do our part to follow the recommended guidelines and practices for gathering in group situations. However, should this change, we will look at how we can remain connected to one another even if our building is not available. Today, the pastoral care committee is going to meet to begin working on a plan to ensure to the best of its ability that we are looking out for one another and providing support to those who are in need.
Basic needs… they are at the core of our very being. And thirst likely tops the list. We can live without many things, even food for prolonged periods of time. But we need hydration on a regular basis. And another need I think we all have is to feel human connection: to be known, to be acknowledged, to be noticed. The video we watched this morning of an encounter between a young man and a woman trying to do her laundry at the local Laundromat, spoke of need to me this week. Both are thirsty. One in a physical sense… the man wants to know where the pop machine is… can I have a drink of your water, he asks. The woman perhaps has a spiritual need… she has known heartbreak and how life can knock you down and see you become suspect to the judgment of others. I want to shout out to this woman, “Don’t take what others say personally! What others think of you is none of your business. Carry on!” But the encounter with this stranger touches something within her. This is not a meeting about judgment or morality. A connection is made. He sees her for who she truly is, he looks beyond her past and current circumstances that have obviously brought her much pain and heartache. And he calls this spiritual insight Living Water. He offers her Living Water to satisfy what she longs for… something that will never leave her thirsty again.
But real life happens. I cannot assure you that there is Living Water as described to us this morning. It is holy Mystery. The writer of John’s gospel’s primary objective was to establish the oneness between Jesus and his Source. This story will be heard differently by each one of us. We hear these words from the spiritual essence of our beings. Are we thirsty this day for something? What is flowing within us that taps into the Life Source of our very beings, where our most carnal and basic needs might be met?
Spiritual thirst… what do I thirst for this week? Inner peace within myself, a sense of calm and centeredness as I attempt to make sense of what a pandemic virus might mean to my daily activities and wellbeing… what it will mean to this gathered community of people I care about. My practices become all the more important to me as I strive to maintain a balance in my life, to keep my feet grounded and my heart open to what is going on around me. Living Water replenishes me through relationships and human connection ; it also flows through my prayer life, moments of quiet and contemplation. From these places springs forth what the guy in the Laundromat is talking about…the presence of Living Water. Not a gift that is given discriminately and with judgment, but rather generously and extravagantly… for truly it is already within you.
I love this story… the woman at the well, the woman at the Laundromat, it is a favorite of mine. It’s like a love story that I never tire of hearing. It reminds me of how we long for connection, to be seen, to be acknowledged and accepted for who we are. This is not a story of judgment of the woman and her past or of her ethnicity as we have likely all heard messages in churches over the years to the contrary. This is about seeing what’s inside another… the hopes, the fears, the vulnerabilities. The common experiences we share as human beings… of accepting one another just as we are.
Please take care in these coming days and weeks. Eat right, get plenty of rest and WASH YOUR HANDS! And maybe if you find yourself feeling a bit disconnected and isolated, reconnect with someone whom perhaps you have lost touch with. Give them a call, message them on social media. Good things, life-giving things can pour out of this experience and perhaps bring us closer together, in spite of the social-distancing we are currently undertaking. Be well and don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed. We are in this together.
So… how about you? What do you thirst for?
Amen and Amen.