What does our DNA say about us?
The Third Sunday in Lent, March 19 2017
Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42
So I heard this commercial on my radio…
“Get your genetic report today! Discover what your genetics and your DNA reveals about who you are…
Are you predisposed to drink more coffee?
Does your DNA reveal why you sleep the way you do?
Does your genetics determine if you are a good runner or not?
And then the concluding appeal…
Discover what your genetics say today!”
I hear this commercial running a lot these days.
You may have even seen the commercial on TV.
Evidently there is this quest and hunger, a big market,
to discover who we are and why we love what we love,
hate what we hate, and do what we do through genetic testing.
While scientific determinism (at times) makes me a little uncomfortable. (call it control issues)
I do find this science to be pretty neat.
I admit I’m curious why and if I’m predetermined to love Fried Chicken and Will Ferrell movies.
There is comfort in knowing “who we are.”
As we journey through the season of Lent,
and as we move closer to Holy Week and Easter…
and as I read today’s Gospel lesson…
this advertisement sparked my imagination and lead me to ask another question…
“What is the DNA of Christianity?”
With is the genetics report of the Church?
What is the genetic makeup of our faith as disciples of Jesus?
I believe today’s Gospel story reveals to us the DNA of our faith as Christians.
This story of this conversation between Jesus an unnamed Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well – gives us our genetic report.
The context is this… This is the gospel of John’s version of the Good Samaritan…
Jesus is traveling and doing ministry, he is preaching and teaching and revealing signs (miracles) pointing to God who is active and present in this messiah.
Where is God? Is God among us? Yes, come and see! God is right here in Jesus.
At this point in the story Jesus is on his way to Galilee,
back to his home base, but our text shares that Jesus surprisingly goes through a Samaritan town called Sychar.
Now we have shared before that Jews and Samaritans did not get along.
There is a long history of bad blood between these two ethic and religious groups.
Each one had a history of dehumanizing one another and calling each other dangerous and illegitimate.
Most Jews traveling this road to Galilee would actually take the longer bypass around Samaria. Avoiding the territory all together.
But not Jesus, this particular Jew doesn’t take the expected and standard route.
John shares that Jesus, being fully human, is tired and thirsty and so he stops at a local Samaritan watering hole.
And then there is this random encounter… (or is it)
A local woman goes to the community well in the middle of the hot day, at noon, perhaps because she is avoiding others who look down upon her.
But she meets a stranger.
Someone who couldn’t be more different than her.
But Jesus becomes vulnerable to her, he confesses his thirst and asks her for help.
She’s like… “wait a minute… you of all people, you are asking me for water?”
What unfolds is this conversation about water,
and thirst, and identity, gender, worship, where God resides (or doesn’t reside), and this longing and deep thirst for a Messiah who will change things and turn things upside down.
And as a result of this risky route and unexpected conversation, lives are changed and faith is birthed.
Not only does this story reveal that God meets us wherever we are in life and faith. That God meets us in the dry and thirsty places in our lives…
Not only does this story reveal that God provides for us within our thirst for love, acceptance and grace…
But within the DNA of our faith there is this understanding that God breaks down walls, barriers, and stereotypes creating and transforming lives, relationships and community.
This conversation… this encounter… this acceptance and grace of Jesus towards this woman compels her to act.
So she goes out and she shares what she has experienced.
Becoming a model of discipleship for us.
Ignoring her reputation, or what others may think of her,
she allows herself to be a witness to what God is doing through this Christ who offers her, and all people, living water.
So if Jesus goes out of his way to break down walls, barriers, social norms and stereotypes…
then perhaps as his disciples we should too.
If Jesus is bold enough to show up in risky and surprising places then perhaps we are called to show up at more Wells to listen and engage in life-giving conversations.
If this Samaritan encounters the Christ and boldly shares her experience with others… then perhaps as those who follow Jesus we should too.
Through the life giving waters of baptism,
with the hereditary molecules of this story imbedded within us…
As the Body of Christ, the Church in the world, we are called to bring truth, liberation, freedom, compassion and God’s grace to a world thirsty for it.
Jesus speaks of Living Waters.
He points to waters that are flowing and moving, bringing life to those who experience it.
When water gets stagnant, it becomes a breeding ground for disease, bacteria, and parasites.
Who wants any part of that?
When we experience stagnant water in faith, the Church, or life,
it causes others and us to ask the question…
Is the Lord among us or not?
So we are in the season of Lent and this is a season described as a wilderness journey towards Easter.
Lent is a good time to get in touch with what we are truly thirst for. This is a great time to ask the question with the Israelite’s, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
Now if we are honest, most of us live pretty privileged lives.
We have clean running water pretty much any time we want it.
But there is still a deeper thirst present in our lives.
There is still a thirst a deep down in our souls that long to be quenched.
Jesus calls us out of complacency and stagnation into the living, flowing waters of God’s grace and love.
And as we journey through this wilderness of life and faith,
we will discover that God shows up in unexpected places in unexpected ways!
My hope and prayer is that the Church, you and me,
this community of faith at Holy Trinity,
can be an oasis of living flowing water for one another and a world thirsty for hope, love and grace.
I can not promise you a magic staff to strike a magic rock…
but we do have water in our midst that we gather around each week.
As we wander in the wilderness of this world God places in our midst a font of flowing grace, a table of bread and wine, and a community of faith to lean upon.
This is who we are.
It’s in our genes.
It’s who God created us to be.