As we continue Back to Basics, we turn our attention now to our Baptismal Vows. These vows are affirmed by parents who baptize children, and by adults who are baptized and who join in formal membership in the church. What do these vows claim about our faith, and do we still claim them?
Concluding this Worship series, we land on the third vow (which comes just before pledging our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness – something we’ve explored during our October Stewardship season and will do so again). The third Baptismal and Membership vow (as amended by our recent Conformation class) reads:
Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations,
and races, sexual orientations, and gender identities and expressions?
In many ways, this may be the crux of our Baptismal and Membership vows. Do we confess our faith in Jesus Christ? Do we confess that he is Savior? Do we trust in his grace? Do we promise to serve him, and to do so in union with the Church? Do we confess that Jesus has opened the Church beyond cultural divisions?
Our text explores this through the lens of a marginalized Samaritan woman. Who would be a better choice to confess that the Christ opens the Church beyond human limitations and division?
John 4:5-15, 25-29, 39-42 (CEB)
5He came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, which was near the land Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there. Jesus was tired from his journey, so he sat down at the well. It was about noon.
7A Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me some water to drink.” 8His disciples had gone into the city to buy him some food.
9The Samaritan woman asked, “Why do you, a Jewish man, ask for something to drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (Jews and Samaritans didn’t associate with each other.)
10Jesus responded, “If you recognized God’s gift and who is saying to you, ‘Give me some water to drink,’ you would be asking him and he would give you living water.”
11The woman said to him, “Sir, you don’t have a bucket and the well is deep. Where would you get this living water? 12You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave this well to us, and he drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
13Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life.”
15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will never be thirsty and will never need to come here to draw water!”
25The woman said, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us.”
26Jesus said to her, “I Am—the one who speaks with you.”
27Just then, Jesus’ disciples arrived and were shocked that he was talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” 28The woman put down her water jar and went into the city. She said to the people, 29“Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done! Could this man be the Christ?”
39Many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s word when she testified, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” 40So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41Many more believed because of his word, 42and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this one is truly the savior of the world.”
Consider these questions:
- What does it mean to you to confess Jesus as your Savior? To put your whole trust in his grace? What could it have meant to the Samaritan woman?
- Do you think the Samaritan woman expected the One she found at the well? Assuming no, have you ever had an unexpected encounter with the divine?
- How did this unnamed woman respond? If you have had an unexpected encounter, how did you respond?
Post-Worship Update on 7/9
Audio from the sermon can be heard below. Because this service was held outdoors, no video is available.
Sunday’s outdoor Worship invited us to explore the idea of confession. I believe that confession is good for the soul, and that holding in our doubts and our fears and our regrets can have a negative influence on us. And on the positive side, I also believe that holding in our hopes and our dreams and our elations and our love can hold us back from living our most true and authentic lives.
The Samaritan woman was bold in her conversation with Jesus, and in her bold authenticity she showed her intelligence and her deep faith. I don’t think this would have shown if she had not confessed her true self in the full daylight of mid-day.
But that’s hard. That’s risky. I think we find it hard to confess our true selves this way because we’re afraid. But in doing so, we can be changed in beautiful and life-giving ways.
When we allow the living water of Jesus to bubble up within us, it becomes a part of us. It changes us. It transforms us. And in doing so, I believe that we are empowered to help others to find the well of living water available to us all.
May the living water of Christ transform us and make us more deeply committed disciples of Jesus.
Consider these questions:
- What do you think about the living water that Jesus offers? Have you experienced this living water? If so, what was the experience like? If not, do you want to?
- Sunday’s message explored how the Samaritan woman is often looked down upon. Why do you think this has been done? Do you think this has been in error? Why? What can we learn in our mistakes?
- Water is an image of newness and of cleansing in the Christian tradition. Have you ever felt the need for newness and cleansing? What other meanings do you understand in the symbolism of water?
I think there is humor, too, when the Samaritan woman says she won’t have to come to the well anymore to draw [regular] water. The Bible is pretty deadpan.