What Is Your Rule of Life?

 

Meditation on Luke 10:38-42

July 21, 2019

The Presbyterian Church of Coshocton

 

     38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

 

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Thank you for your birthday cards and notes! I enjoyed them so much! Bob and Marialice sent me one that began, “And God said, ‘Let There be Light. And Lo And Behold…” You open the pop up card, and inside it says, “And there was your birthday cake!” I don’t know, I lost count, but I’m pretty sure there were at least 100 candles blazing on top of the cake.

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I don’t think I am 100, yet. But I have trouble remembering my age. Do you know how old you are? My grandfather, when he was in 90s, when you asked him how old he was, he would say, “Oh, around 75.” That’s how old he thought he was. So I think I am in my 50s. But, after seeing Bob and Marialice’s card, I could just be fooling myself!

I have been partying since Thursday. I am going to be like Lula and celebrate my birthday all month long. Age doesn’t bother me, but the one thing that worries me on my birthday is the nagging question, “Am I doing what God wants me to do? Am I being faithful to the call?”

I had to come up with a “rule of life” for a school assignment this summer. Then I had to live it out for at least a month and write a paper about the experience. Author Marjorie Thompson, author of Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life, says “Certain kinds of plants need support in order to grow properly. Tomatoes need stakes, and beans must attach themselves to suspended strings. Creeping vines like clematis and wisteria will grow on any structure they can find. Rambling roses take kindly to garden walls, archways, and trellises. Without support, these plants would collapse into a heap on the ground. Their blossoms would not have the space and sun they need to flourish, and their fruits would rot in contact with the soil. .. . When it comes to spiritual growth, human beings are much like these plants. We need structure and support. Otherwise, our spirituality grows only in a confused and disorderly way.” In Christian tradition, the kind of structure that supports our spiritual growth is called a “rule of life.”

My rule includes walking, praying and engaging in holy reading each day, taking time for stillness, silence and rest, as this is Christ’s gift to us. Also being kind and encouraging others, practicing forgiveness, talking to strangers, showing hospitality–these are as good for our spiritual health as they are for others. Being kind to self is on my rule– eating what is good, for when our physical body is healthy, we can better handle the mental, emotional and spiritual challenges of our lives. Finally, I knew my rule needed to include living free of anxiety and fear. Jesus tells us not to worry or be afraid, as in Matthew 6, in his “consider the lilies” teaching and in John 14, when he tells his grieving disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me.”

***

I can’t help but wonder if Mary and Martha had to write a rule of life, what would it be? Martha’s rule might focus more on service. Mary’s on loving God, delighting in His Word, and enjoying His presence. All of these are important in our Christian life.

In this gentle, living room scene, we discover which part is the better one, the most important to the Lord. Mary and Martha’s house in Bethany is a stop on the way to Jerusalem. The cross looms ahead. Jesus is preparing his followers for their mission after his death and resurrection.

Just before Christ’s visit with Mary and Martha, a lawyer asks Jesus how he can inherit eternal life. Jesus responds with the Parable of the Good Samaritan, who shows mercy to an enemy, at risk to his own life. “Do this,” Jesus says, “and you will live.” The themes of listening to God’s Word and doing God’s Word, discipleship and hospitality, appear throughout the gospel of Luke.

Wonderful things happen to hearts, minds and spirits as people gather to eat with the Lord, a shadow of things to come–when people will come from the north, south, east and west to feast at the banquet table in the Kingdom of God. This time, in the Mary and Martha story, in the space of just 5 verses, an important spiritual lesson arrives before dinner is served.

I don’t know about you, but I admire and feel sorry for Martha. In my mind, she is like Martha Stewart. She has everything just right. Cloth napkins are folded into the shape of geese; the best china is laid out with a floral centerpiece on the white linen tablecloth. Ok, Martha probably didn’t have china, linen, and a floral centerpiece, but you get the idea. She has prepared a feast fit for the King of Kings. Doesn’t Jesus deserve the very best? I’d be nervous in Martha’s shoes, too.

But Mary…. What’s going on with her? In those days, women wouldn’t be sitting in the living room with the men while dinner was being prepared. She might have been assigned hostess duties, but then sat down at Jesus’ feet to listen and enjoy his presence, rather than return to the kitchen with Martha. Maybe Jesus has invited her to sit with him when he sees her hanging on his every word.

Martha is exasperated. I have a feeling this isn’t the first argument they have had, after all, they are sisters with very different gifts and passions. I imagine Martha wiping sweat from her brow, muttering, “If it weren’t for me, there would be no dinner at all!” She is so upset, she isn’t talking to Mary, and she does a thing called triangulation. Our kids used to do this. “Mom! Tell James he has to help me clean up!” Did your kids ever do that? She feels sorry for herself for having too much to do, though she chose to do it all. Don’t we do that? We make more work for ourselves and then complain about how much we have to do! She is jealous of her sister, too, for getting all the attention. “Lord, do you not care,” she asks, “that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her, then, to help me.”

Many of us were raised to be Marthas. I was, though I was never able to do it all and do it well; this is still a value in our society, especially for women. Busy people are more admirable than people who are less busy. That’s why when we are sick, injured or struggling with mobility, we feel less valuable. Society teaches us this, beginning with our families in our childhood. It was a value in Jesus’ time, too, for women. This is nothing new.

Luke seems to be telling us in this passage that busyness, even when our intention is to serve and care for others, can become the thing that makes us proud, distracted, resentful, and anxious, if we lose our focus on the Lord. As the first question of our Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man? To enjoy God and glorify him forever.”

Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

***

On this day, when I celebrate and give thanks for another year to live this wonderful life, and enjoy and glorify our Lord, the one question I will invariably ask myself is, “Am I doing what God wants me to do?” Now I have a rule of life to help me to be faithful and support my spiritual growth and health. Walking, reading God’s Word and prayer every day–these are going well. And I’ve been more intentional about being still and enjoying the presence of God, and allowing myself to rest, without feeling guilty.

But living free from anxiety and fear and not getting caught up in busyness, well, I think I need some help. So I am starting a women’s book study Aug. 20, Joanna Weaver’s Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.

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My hope is that we will support each other, trust one another enough to become vulnerable, and find healing through laughter, love and prayer. I will have an opportunity to practice hospitality, as the gathering will be in the early evening in my living room. If there are more than 12 women interested, we can start a second group to meet during the day at church. So sign up, even if the 12 spaces are filled.

When my husband found out that I am starting a group for women, he said, “Well, what about the men?” He is considering starting a men’s group. Men also struggle with society’s value of busyness. I am sure men were taught when they were small the more that they do, the more valuable they are. Anxiety and thoughts of I am not doing enough, no matter how much we do are not a “woman thing” or a “man thing.” It is a reality for all human beings.

Please, hear the Good News! We are freed and forgiven from the sin of busyness and works righteousness. We have been reconciled with God and human beings because of the work of Christ, our Risen Savior.

Don’t sacrifice your relationship with the Lord and others by losing your focus, and getting caught up in everything you are doing. Don’t give in to your anxieties and fear. I encourage you to write a simple rule of life. I hope you will include starting your day with God’s Word and prayer. This will feed your faith and strengthen you to do the acts of kindness and humble service that God wants you to do.

I leave you with Christ’s encouraging words to Martha, exasperated, resentful, jealous, overwhelmed, though she is graced with the presence of her loving Lord in her living room. “You are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.”

Let us pray….

Lord God, we are so joyful to be in your presence, delighting in your Word. Thank you for your work done for our sakes–because you love us and want to be in a close, loving relationship with us. Help us to keep our eyes focused on you and not get caught up in the busyness of life. Stir us to pray and listen for your Word every day. Forgive us our anxieties and fears. Guide us in your Will–so that we do the acts of kindness and humble service that you want us to do. In Your Son’s name we pray. Amen.

 

Who Is My Neighbor?

 

Meditation on Luke 10:25-37

The Presbyterian Church of Coshocton

July 14, 2019

 

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Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “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.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

      29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

***

It’s another beautiful day in Coshocton! Jim and I have our air conditioning restored, so it is comfortable at 1626 Marion Drive, even when it is hot and humid outside. Actually, I was cold last night and was wearing a sweater in the house!!

More good news: I am enjoying my daily walks. Are you following me on Facebook? I post photos of lovely homes and yards that I pass as I am walking. Some friends respond by telling me who lives there. People really know the neighborhood! I also post pictures of flowers, birds, the occasional bunny, and pets that come up to greet me, such as a little black and white dog named Lily on Buena Vista and a grey, striped tabby cat with white paws on Marion.

I am happy to see church members as I walk in my neighborhood. Saw Kirsten and Anne and Lew on Monday. Saw Barb and Ari eating ice cream cones on their front steps Friday night. Others have walked with me for part of the way–Lisa Thompson, Linda Magness, and Dolores Millward with her dog Callie. I hope that more of you may want to walk with me, too.

Most of the time, I talk to strangers. My smile and wave often lead to curious questions—“Who are you? Where do you live?”—and some sharing of stories.

For that hour of walking, I let go of the problems of the day and have no other agenda except spiritual, mental, and physical well-being, and keeping alert to anyone who might want to talk and/or walk with me. This is my way of being more intentional about reaching out to my neighbors and seeking to be known and available to help people in need.

***

Jesus is ever patient with the expert in religious law in our reading in Luke 10. The man is trying to trap him into saying a word or phrase that can be misconstrued and used against him. He asks a seemingly innocent question.

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?” he asks. The question is flawed. Can anyone do anything to inherit something? An inheritance is a gift one receives after a relative or friend dies.

The subject of eternal life in First Century Judaism is a hotly debated issue. Everyone is talking about it. So Jesus asks the lawyer what he thinks about it. “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”

The lawyer quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, essentially, “Love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus answers, “You are correct. Do this—hold to these standards of loving God and neighbor and you will have eternal life.”

What’s the problem with what Jesus tells the lawyer? As Paul says in Romans 7, the problem isn’t with the law of God. The problem is that we aren’t able to keep it. “ I do not understand my own actions,” Paul says. “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But, in fact, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.”

The lawyer isn’t finished with his questions. He wants to justify himself. To be justified in biblical language means to be granted the status of one whom God accepts as one stands before God. He believes that he can satisfy the law’s requirements through his own goodness and intellect.

He asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” He is counting on a narrow definition of   the neighbors whom God’s people are told to love. Leviticus 19:18 may seem to support his assumption, saying, “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” The context of “love your neighbor” is “your own people.” But reading on to Leviticus 19:34, we find a broader definition of neighbor. “The alien or stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the citizen or native among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

Then, Jesus tells a parable, a spiritual teaching device that draws from images, attitudes, and real-life situations in his world. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, robbers attack, strip and beat a man traveling the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. The assumption is the man is Jewish. They leave him for dead. Who is the first to find him? A priest. This is a hereditary position; the priesthood is a wealthy and elite class in Jewish society. If the wounded man were a Jew, the priest would be duty bound to help the man. But if he were already dead, then the priest would be ceremonially defiled if he touched him and would have to go back to Jerusalem and undergo a weeklong process of purification. It would affect his family and servants, and hold up the distribution to the poor. The priest, afraid to take the risk of becoming defiled, passes the man on the other side of the road, leaving him to die.

Next comes the Levite, who serves as an assistant to the priests. Since a priest in front of him has passed the man by, the Levite, seeing him, could also pass by in good conscience and not help the wounded man. Besides, if he rode into Jericho with the wounded man, he would be insulting the priest, who neglected his duties.

A third person comes along. Jesus’ audience is expecting this person to be a Jewish layman who will be the hero of the story, to help a fellow Jew in trouble. Not a Samaritan, a hated outsider! Those hearing the story would rather hear that a Jewish man would reach out and show compassion to a Samaritan than how a Samaritan helped a Jew. We get an idea of just how much the disciples hated Samaritans in chapter 9, after a Samaritan village refuses to receive Jesus. And James and John ask, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But Jesus turns and rebukes them.

Kenneth Bailey, a professor of Middle Eastern New Testament Studies at an ecumenical seminary in Jerusalem, says that the Samaritan risks his own life to transport the wounded man to an inn within Jewish territory. A Samaritan wouldn’t be safe in a Jewish town with a wounded Jewish man strapped to the back of his riding animal. This may stir the community to take vengeance on him, even if he has saved the life of a Jew.

In the final scene of the parable, it is the following day.  The Samaritan gives the innkeeper two denarii, which would cover the bill for food and lodging for at least a week or two, so the wounded man would not be sold as a slave for not paying his bill, which was common practice. What the parable doesn’t say is if the Samaritan survived after he paid the bill. “Was there a crowd awaiting him outside the inn?” Bailey asks. “Was he beaten or killed?” We are left wondering.
And Jesus never answers the question, “Who is my neighbor?”

He answers a better one that the lawyer never asked. “What does it mean to become a neighbor?

      For being a neighbor has nothing to do with religion, ethnicity, language, or even geography. A neighbor is one who loves by showing mercy, being willing to risk one’s own life to save even an enemy.

Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.”

***

In this very familiar passage, sometimes preachers will ask us to put ourselves in the story. Are we feeling beaten and wounded in body and spirit, helpless and hopeless, longing for a compassionate neighbor to respond to our need?

Are we living in fear, like the priest or the Levite, allowing our concern for our own personal risk keep us from answering the call to love our neighbors and show mercy to those in need?

Are we like the lawyer, trying to find a way to justify ourselves? Looking to earn or achieve what is a free gift of eternal life, offered to all people, through the mercy and sacrifice of Jesus Christ?

Or are we ready to follow Jesus, who, like the good Samaritan, was the hated outsider, giving his own life to reveal the goodness and mercy of God.

The parable is for all Christ’s followers, who would like to be excused from loving and forgiving the people we struggle to love. The parable is for us, who, seeking to justify ourselves, might ask, “Who is my neighbor?” when a better question is, “How do we become a neighbor?”

By showing love and mercy, by being willing to take personal risks to help another.

Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.”

 

Let us pray.

Holy One, thank you for calling us your children, for forgiving us for our selfish ways, for not always wanting to help our neighbors and, in doing so, reveal your love and glory. Thank for your mercy and compassion for sinners and for sending your Son to die for our sins when we could not, not matter how hard we tried, justify ourselves or make ourselves right with you. Help us, Lord, to become good neighbors, to reach out right where we live and seek to help people in need. Give us courage, Lord, and strength to “Go and do likewise.” In Christ we pray. Amen.

 

Wash and Be Clean

Meditation on 2 Kings 5:1-14

The Presbyterian Church of Coshocton

July 7, 2019

     Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy.  2 Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”  4 So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the king of Aram said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.”

He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.”  7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?  Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.”

But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.

15 Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company; he came and stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel; please accept a present from your servant.”

 

***

 

We endured another week without air conditioning. In spite of the heat, we had a good week and enjoyed some more Ohio firsts! We watched the Coshocton fireworks from our back deck and planted our first flower garden with Shasta Daisies, Black-eyed Susans, 2 kinds of Hosta, yellow daylilies, and a red rose.

I prayed for patience and saw the goodness of the Lord in the kindness of family and friends and the wonder of God’s Creation. For with the windows open wide, we can hear the birds singing in the trees during the day and the serenade of frogs at night. We can smell the freshness of the rain, bringing cool relief from the heat.

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We see God in the ordinary and extraordinary, the everyday and surprising sights, sounds and situations. Our God of compassion is always with us, always loves us, suffers with us and desires our healing.  We see the Lord with eyes of faith, believing in the one who sends us out, like Christ sent out his 70 to preach repentance, work for peace, heal the sick and cast out demons. To proclaim, “The Kingdom of God is drawing near.”

 

***

 

There’s so much surprising about our reading in 2 Kings. Naaman of Aram or Syria today is a mighty man, commander of the army of Aram, whose victories have earned his king’s favor. The first surprising thing is that God would grant Israel’s enemy victory. But this isn’t about God’s judgment on Israel; the overall message of this passage is God’s grace extended beyond the boundaries of a single nation or people—even those who act as God’s enemies. The story of Naaman foreshadows the New Covenant in Jesus Christ, opened to all, as Paul will say in Romans 5:10, that “while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, (and) how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”

Also surprising is that the great warrior suffers from leprosy. In the ancient world, leprosy is a sign of being spiritually “unclean” and would bar him from worship and from engaging in normal life in community. But Naaman is far from a social outcast, and there is no mention of the severe crippling, paralysis or blindness that can occur with the leprosy known today as Hansen’s Disease.

The most surprising thing of all is that a little Israelite girl, taken captive by the Aramaen army to serve Naaman’s wife, is the one who shows compassion for her captor and reveals great faith in the God of Israel working through Elisha. The little unnamed slave girl is the true heroine of the story, the agent of hope. She tells her mistress, who tells her husband, and Naaman, on the slave girl’s advice, decides to go into enemy territory to trust a prophet of Israel for his cure. He tells his king, who also comes to believe and writes a letter for Naaman to take with him, along with payment for prophetic services: ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments.

Naaman goes to the Israelite King, probably Jehoram, son of Ahab, who was killed in battle with the Aramaens. Jehoram, not surprisingly, sees this visit as the Aramaens’ attempt to provoke war with Israel, again. He tears his clothes in torment. Then Elisha sends a message urging Jehoram to let Naaman come to him, so that “he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.”  Jehoram relents; he doesn’t like Elisha and he probably thinks it’s a good way to pass his problem onto him.

The commander goes with horses and chariots to the prophet’s house, but the one who said he wanted Naaman to learn that there is a prophet in Israel won’t come out to meet him! He isn’t impressed by his wealth and power, and he wants no payment! This, again, demonstrates the grace and mercy of God! The Lord only asks that we believe and live as a people of faith. Worldly wealth and power don’t impress the Lord! Elisha sends his servant to tell Naaman, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” The Aramean army commander expects the prophet to do something dramatic to bring about his healing. He feels humiliated when told to “wash” in a river in Israel that very likely isn’t as broad or clean as the rivers in Aram. Filled with rage, the proud man almost misses the miracle healing that God has for him because it isn’t miraculous enough! It is too ordinary for such an extraordinary man. Wash and be clean, indeed!

We aren’t surprised, this time, when the servants are the voice of reason and that Naaman, once again, listens to and values the opinions of his servants. They persuade Naaman by flattering him that he would certainly do something difficult to be healed. Wouldn’t he try this simple thing?

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So he goes to the Jordan. He washes and is made clean. He declares his faith in the God of Israel and returns home, to continue to serve as commander of the army of Aram. But he is a changed man, with a powerful story to share. His flesh has been restored to that of a young boy. He has come to believe in the Lord because of the faith of a little Israelite servant girl.

Jesus will use Naaman as an example of God’s care for Gentiles in his hometown sermon in Luke 4:27, angering his Jewish audience. “There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha,” he says, “and none of them were cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”

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***

As it rained last night—keeping the air conditioning repairman away yet another day for fear of electrocution—I thought of how water is used for life and death in the Bible. How God destroyed much of life on earth in a flood and caused water to flow from a rock when the Israelites were thirsty. And how water is a symbol of the Holy, life-giving Spirit and how Jesus is Living Water for the Samaritan woman at the well. Each of us is washed and made clean in our baptisms, dying to sin and rising to new life.

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The Lord showed us the way by being baptized in the Jordan, where the Israelites crossed over into the Promised Land and Naaman the warrior is humbled and washed clean of leprosy. And how in Revelation 22 the water of the river of life, as clear as crystal, awaits us, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

As rain fell gently on our back deck, the birds and frogs were silent, but the trees seemed to whisper, “The Kingdom of God is drawing near.”

Let us pray…

Holy One, we thank you for your gift of water, essential for all life, and for your Spirit, symbolized by water, that leads us to new life every day. Thank you for your love, for suffering with and for us, for your promise to be with us always, your desire to heal us of our diseases, and your claiming us in our baptisms. Lord, help us to see you every day in the ordinary and extraordinary, every situation, and not miss any blessing you have for us. Stir us to see and share the good news: Your Kingdom is drawing near. In Christ we pray, Amen.