Read-along Service for Sunday, March 12, 2023 – Lent 3

Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church
Order of Worship
Sunday, March 12, 2023 – 3rd Sunday in Lent

Words of welcome, announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle
As we journey towards the darkness of the cross, we light a candle to remind us of the Light that can not be put out. May this light remind us that we are not alone, in all the changing scenes of life. We do not make this journey from death to resurrection alone, for God is with us.

Choral Introit  “I have decided to follow Jesus”

Call To worship
Come, all who thirst—come to the water!
You who long for the water of life—come and drink!
Dip your soul in the river of God’s goodness; quench your thirst at God’s well of grace.
For God is here among us, offering living water to all who would drink!
Let’s worship God together!

Hymn Let Us Build a House (All Are Welcome)                            MV 1

  1. Let us build a house where love can dwell
    and all can safely live,
    a place where saints and children tell
    how hearts learn to forgive.
    Built of hopes and dreams and visions,
    Rock of faith and vault of grace;
    Here the love of Christ shall end divisions;
    All are welcome, all are welcome,
    All are welcome in this place.
  1. Let us build a house where prophets speak,
    and words are strong and true,
    where all God’s children dare to seek
    to dream God’s reign anew.
    Here the cross shall stand as witness
    And as symbol of God’s grace;
    Here as one we claim the faith of Jesus:
    All are welcome, all are welcome,
    All are welcome in this place.
  1. Let us build a house where love is found
    In water, wine and wheat;
    A banquet hall on holy ground,
    Where peace and justice meet.
    Here the love of God, through Jesus,
    Is revealed in time and space;
    As we share in Christ the feast that frees us:
    All are welcome, all are welcome,
    All are welcome in this place.
  1. Let us build a house where hands will reach
    Beyond the wood and stone
    To heal and strengthen, serve and teach,
    And live the Word they’ve known.
    Here the outcast and the stranger
    Bear the image of God’s face;
    Let us bring an end to fear and danger:
    All are welcome, all are welcome,
    All are welcome in this place.
  1. Let us build a house where all are named,
    their songs and visions heard
    and loved and treasured, taught and claimed
    as words within the Word.
    Built of tears and cries of laughter,
    Prayers of faith and songs of grace;
    Let this house proclaim from floor to rafter:
    All are welcome, all are welcome,
    All are welcome in this place.

Prayer of Approach
Loving and caring God, we come this morning in search of hope. We desperately need a hope that will sustain us in our trying times, our lonely times, our doubting times. Refresh us this morning with the living water of your presence and love. Open us to the possibilities of friendship so we are not alone. Open our hearts to the possibilities of encountering you in unexpected ways. Open our imagination to the possibility of seeing the miraculous in our lives today.  Amen.

Hymn When All Your Mercies, O My God                                     VU 219

  1. When all your mercies, O my God,
    my rising soul surveys,
    transported with the view I’m lost
    in wonder, love and praise.
  1. Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
    my daily thanks employ;
    nor is the least a cheerful heart
    that tastes those gifts with joy.
  1. Through every period of my life
    your goodness I’ll pursue;
    and after death, in distant worlds
    the glorious theme renew.
  1. Through all eternity to you
    a joyful song I’ll raise;
    but oh! eternity’s too short
    to utter all your praise.

Scripture Reader:       Jane Lambert
Exodus 17:1-7  John 4:5-42

Special Music
Homily “Living Water”
Musical Response

The offering
We give thanks for everyone who continues to support TSA during these challenging times. Your gifts of support and encouragement mean a lot to us.  You can get more information about making a donation by contacting the church office or by visiting our website. For all the gifts you share, for all the people you bless by your serving and giving as a disciple of Jesus, we give thanks.

Offering Song Come, O Fount of Every Blessing                        VU 559

Come, O Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing your grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing
call for songs of endless praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount; I’m fixed upon it,
mount of God’s unfailing love. 

Offering Prayer
Loving God, you give us the gift of life and for this we are eternally grateful. So we offer you all that we are and all capable of being so we might share this gift with others. As we seek to follow the way of Jesus, may we learn how share the gift of living water with a world that is thirsty for love, for meaning, for justice, and for hope. May all your people experience the fullness of life through the love of Christ, which lives within each of us. Bless the givers and all these gifts we pray. Amen.

Hymn  Tree of Life and Awesome Mystery                                   VU 121

  1. Tree of Life and awesome mystery,
    in your death we are reborn,
    though you die in all of history,
    still you rise with every morn,
    still you rise with every morn.
  1. Seed that dies to rise in glory,
    may we see ourselves in you,
    if we learn to live your story
    we may die to rise anew,
    we may die to rise anew.
  1. We remember truth once spoke,
    love passed on through act and word,
    every person lost and broken,
    wears the body of our Lord,
    wears the body of our Lord.
  1. Gentle Jesus, mighty Spirit,
    come inflame our hearts anew,
    we may all our joy inherit
    if we bear the cross with you,
    if we bear the cross with you.
  1. Christ, you lead and we shall follow,
    stumbling though our steps may be,
    one with you in joy and sorrow,
    we the river, you the sea,
    we the river, you the sea.

Pastoral Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn We Are Pilgrims (The Servant Song)              VU 595

  1. We are pilgrims on a journey,
    fellow travellers on the road;
    we are here to help each other
    walk the mile and bear the load.
  1. Sister, let me be your servant,
    let me be as Christ to you;
    pray that I may have the grace to
    let you be my servant too.
  1. I will hold the Christ-light for you
    in the night-time of your fear;
    I will hold my hand out to you,
    speak the peace you long to hear.
  1. I will weep when you are weeping,
    when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
    I will share your joy and sorrow,
    till we’ve seen this journey through.
  1. When we sing to God in heaven,
    we shall find such harmony,
    born of all we’ve known together
    of Christ’s love and agony.
  1. Brother, let me be your servant,
    let me be as Christ to you;
    pray that I may have the grace to
    let you be my servant too.

We go now into the world to serve God’s creative purposes. May the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. Be filled with the same spirit of love. With reverence for God, work out your salvation so you may discover all you can become.
And may God quench your thirst with love. May Christ Jesus encourage you; And may the Holy Spirit fill you with hope so your joy may be complete. Go now in peace to love and serve the God, this day and always. Amen.

Choral Amen                         VU 973


Living Water. John 4:4-30  March 12, 2023 Third Sunday of Lent.
Preached by Rev. James Murray at Trinity- St. Andrew’s United Church

When we look at the new situations which are developing in our world today, the great work each of us faces is how to find a way forward that is life giving for us all. The problem is that planning for the future is always a guessing game. As Christians we are taught to look to back on our Tradition for guidance as to how we should act in the future. Sometimes what we did in the past can be a source of great wisdom that can guide us. There are also times when what we did in the past can lead us in the wrong direction. The question each generation must ask is whether our Tradition acts as a helpful Navigator which will help us find a good solution to this new situation. Or will our tradition be an un-helpful Nagivator which sends us in the wrong direction. Nobody likes a nag.

A good Navigator will give helpful directions. A good navigator will tell you to turn right at the next corner. A Nagivator will remind you of all the times you failed to turn right at the stop sign you just passed. A navigator will help you find your way when you are lost. A Nagivator will tell you that it’s your fault that you are lost. A navigator will help you find a helpful way forward when circumstances change. A nagivator will tell you how unhappy they are that things have changed.

What we really need is some helpful wisdom learned from previous generations. At the beginning of the pandemic, many historians looked at how we have dealt with previous pandemics for guidance as to what we should do. Sadly, our society ignored a lot of that wisdom and ended up repeating many of the same mistakes our ancestors did.

Even in Jesus’ day, the burning religious question was whether their traditional beliefs were still helpful or not. In Jesus’ home region of Galilee most of the population were now Gentiles. Jews were now a minority. They wondered how their Jewish tradition could help them live under Roman rule with their Gentile neighbours. This was not the first time their faith had faced a great time of change. Five hundred years before Jesus had been the time of exile in Babylon. Five hundred years before that had been Moses leading the people into the promised land. Five hundred years before that was when Abraham first heard the call of God to go to a new country. The Jewish faith tradition had undergone many dramatic changes over the centuries as it tried to guide people how to live together in peace.

When Jesus’ disciples find Jesus talking to a woman by the well they know he is breaking all of the traditional rules of social behaviour.  To make matters worse, Jesus is talking about God with her. He’s treating her as an equal, as he discusses God’s salvation. Then to top it off, this woman is a Samaritan. Jesus’ culture had held their sexist beliefs about women for over a thousand years. Their hatred of the Samaritans had simmered for seven hundred years. But Jesus realizes these traditions are no longer helpful.

Jesus was not the only person who had realized that in God’s Empire, being of the right race will not save you. In God’s kingdom, being of the right gender will not grant you a preferred seat. In God’s way of doing things, being of the right social class will not secure you deferential treatment. Jesus is not the only person to realize this. He is just the first to say out loud what others were already thinking. Jesus is seeking a way for us to live together in peace with our neighbours, especially when our neighbours are different from us. He wants us to find a new way to build community and connection with each other, even as the traditional ways of being a community fade away.

We know that in its first three hundred years, the early Christian church grew dramatically. The movement began with a few dozen people in a few small villages. Within three hundred years it grew to include six million people all over the Roman Empire. It grew because it did welcome the Samaritans and all other races and nations and languages. It grew because it welcomed the gifts of women. Many of the early leaders of this movement were women. The talents of all these people were welcomed and nurtured. And our Tradition grew as a result because it was willing to be changed by the people it welcomed.

The Tradition grew because Jesus’ gift of the Water of life was accepted and shared. Without water, the fields cannot produce their harvest. Without water, we will die in a matter of days. The symbolism is striking. Jesus offers us a way to quench our thirst for presence, for acceptance, for meaning. The waters Jesus gives us are his spirit, his wisdom. He shows us how to build a new kind of community which will take away the parched throat of loneliness and despair. In a world where water was a precious commodity, Jesus believes there is enough of this water of life to go around to the point that he is willing to share it even with a Samaritan woman.  He shows if we drink from his well of compassion and love, then we too will become a wellspring of compassion. When we accept the Spirit of God, we can give this same spirit to others. And the more we share it with others, the more we will receive.

For such a relationship to happen, we have to be willing to be changed by what the other person has to offer us. A relationship is the sharing of our heart with another person. It is to give and to receive from each other, helping one another to become fully human. The goal is not for them to become just like us.  The goal is for each person to find their own way to become fully a part of God’s Kingdom.  This is why it is important for us to listen to the people we meet, so we can learn how God is already present in their lives. If we listen, we can learn from their experience of what it means to have faith in God.

So when Jesus meets the Samaritan woman, it isn’t just him telling her things. They have a conversation and he listens to what she has to say. As a result, when the Samaritan woman goes and tells everyone in her village about him. They come to meet this remarkable man because of what she says to them as part of their relationship. The waters of life are now flowing from her, just as she had received it from Jesus. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, they call this woman Saint Photini, the enlightened one. Saint Photini is the first Gentile Christian. She is also the first Gentile evangelist. She goes on to share the gospel with people in several different countries. Because of this incident at the well, the Christian church takes an unexpected left turn. As a result of her faith, Gentiles like you and me have been welcomed into this faith tradition.

No one could have predicted such an unlikely development. And that is why finding a way forward has always been such a challenge. The road of life can be difficult. There are many unexpected roadblocks and detours we must all face. Thankfully this is not a journey we have to make alone.  Like every good road trip, we can share the journey with this community of unlikely fellow seekers. And Jesus is willing to be our helpful navigator as we journey deeper into God’s presence. If you are willing to be changed by the experience, Christ invites us to come share the journey. Come share the waters of life. Amen.