Bible Study: 3 Lent (A)

March 23, 2014

Steven KingVirginia Theological Seminary

“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty.’” (John 4:13-14)

The Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) readings:
Exodus 17:1-7Psalm 95Romans 5:1-11John 4:5-42

Exodus 17:1-7

As I spend time with this portion of Exodus, I am struck by the Israelites last question: “Is the Lord among us or not?”

They have traveled long distances, led by a man claiming to be chosen by God to guide them, and now they are without water. They are becoming frustrated and angry and are turning their emotions toward God. Their question is a very human response and one that may be familiar to us, too. And yet, as faithful people, we know that the Lord is among us and it is our call to learn to tune our hearts to hear God’s voice in our lives.

Lent is a time to remove the distractions that make it difficult to hear and discern God’s movement in our lives. God is always present. Let us strive to come into God’s presence more fully.

Has there been a time in your life when you have wondered, “Is the Lord among us or not?” What was that time like? How did you come to trust in the Lord’s presence again?

Consider what distracts your or prevents you from hearing the Lord’s call in your life. How might you work through that?

Psalm 95

Verse 2 from Psalm 95 continues the call from Exodus to “come before his presence with thanksgiving” by describing all that the Lord has created. God made the caverns of the earth, the heights of the hills, the sea and the dry land, and in this we see the presence of the Lord. We know that the Lord is among us is because we see God’s creation all around us each day. We are called to take the time to slow ourselves down and notice all that is around us and, in this way, to come into the Lord’s presence. Lent is a time to slow down the busyness of life, to once again take notice of God’s creation all around us, and to be thankful.

Where do you see or feel the presence of God in the world around you?

What causes you to lose sight, even temporarily, of the presence of God in your life? What adds extra stress and busyness and how might you hear God in that time? Consider taking an extra 15 minutes of silence each day to be with God.

Romans 5:1-11

Throughout this passage from the letter of Paul to the Romans, Paul calls for the readers and hearers of his message to boast: “in our hope of sharing the glory of God,” “in our sufferings,” and “more than that … in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The lines about suffering producing endurance and so on are one of my favorite pieces of scripture, and yet, as I read the passage this time, the call to “boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God” stuck out to me. Paul is calling his readers, and us, to be joyful and proud as we claim all that Christ as done for us and as we tell others about that. Because of Christ, we are justified and given peace and we will be saved. This is Good News. This is a message that the world needs to hear. Let us boast in it, joyfully and faithfully!

Consider all of the different possibilities for ways that you may “boast” in this Good News. How and with whom might you share this message with those in your community?

Throughout your faith journey, what are some ways that you have experienced God’s movement in your life? How might you share those with others to help them see how God is moving in their lives?

John 4:5-42

I have always loved this woman’s reaction to her encounter with Christ! Even after he not only breaks societal customs and speaks to her but also talks with her about her divorces, he still reveals himself as the Messiah. She is not afraid or ashamed, but instead runs to the nearest city and shouts, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!”

I love this reaction!

I find myself wondering if I could do that or whether or not I would be ashamed in front of Jesus of the mistakes I have made in my life. And yet, this woman gives us a faithful example of someone who has experienced the love of Christ that is not conditional upon any circumstances of her or our lives and goes to invite others to be a part of it.

This woman gives us a deeply faithful model for what we, too, can do when we encounter Christ even today. We are called not to get stuck in our sins or mistakes but instead to come to trust that even with all that may have happened, Christ still loves us and is present with us. After we have experienced this presence, let us follow this woman’s example to tell others about such a love as Christ’s!

Are there times in your life that you would rather others, including even God, didn’t know about? How have you experienced Christ’s love for you even in these times?

Is there someone you know who needs to hear this message of unconditional love? How might you share it with them?

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