Face to face with God—Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen.

Christ is risen!

And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.  …  So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.

Exodus 33:9, 11

So it was, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, that the Lord appeared before Moses and spoke with him “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”  And God appears at other times before certain of his people.  God shows his face and humanity is transformed—the face of Moses himself shone after being in the presence of God so he veiled it (see Exodus 34:29–35).

And God now appears before another.  But for her she did not have to climb a mountain nor enter a tabernacle, for the Lord came and met her where she was.  She was an outcast, not only a Samaritan but a Samaritan woman, not only that but five times divorced and the man with whom she lived was not her husband.  She was in no way respectable, in no way righteous, but the Lord came to her.  Yet without signs, without miracles, she could recognise Jesus as the Christ, she could do what his own people could not: behold this man as the Messiah who leads us not to temporal power but to eternal glory.  And she is transformed by this, she is a new person.  Straightway she runs back to the city and the fervour of her words brings many to Faith in the Lord.

You and I, dear brothers and sisters, are called to do likewise.  Along with the beloved disciple, “we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness,” says the Apostle Paul, “who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (John 1:14, 2 Corinthians 4:6)

You and I have met Christ and beheld him “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend,” and he asks from you and from me, “Give me a drink.”  Because the Lord meets us where we are—even in an everyday place, even in my misery, even though I may be repulsed by my own sin yet I feel powerless to do anything about it—and he engages.  And we are free to walk away or to encounter him.  To walk away is the easy path, avoid doing anything which might hurt, but it is a path which leads to death.  To stay, to be transformed, to name and reject the sin that is within me is hard and painful, it requires perseverance and effort, but is the only way to life, the fulness of life, because Christ is the Life. (John 14:6)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, stand in the presence of Christ, face to face.  It will change you, it will transform you, and change is painful—we prefer the knowledge of the illness rather than the trial of the treatment—yet stand firm and let Christ into your hearts that you may become the persons you were created to be: heirs and inheritors of eternal life.

Christ is risen!

To our risen Saviour Jesus Christ be all glory, honour and might, together with his Unoriginate Father and the All-holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit.  Amen.

In those days, those apostles who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to none except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number that believed turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad; and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a large company was added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church, and taught a large company of people; and in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians. Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabos stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world; and this took place in the days of Claudius. And the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brethren who lived in Judea, and they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.
— Acts 11:19–30

At that time, Jesus came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” For his disciples had gone away into 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?” For Jews have no dealings 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 nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw. Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 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 he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth, for such the Father seeks 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 the Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he. Just then his disciples came. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but none said, “What do you wish?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the city and were coming to him. Meanwhile the disciples besought him, saying “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him food?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. He who reaps receives wages, and gathers 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 labour; others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour. Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony. “He told me all that I ever did.” 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 your words that we believe, for we have heard ourselves, and we know that this is indeed Christ the Saviour of the world.
— John 4:5–42