3rd Sunday of Lent 2020

Good evening my friends and companions in faith.

These are indeed unprecedented times and the information flow as well as the constantly changing landscape of this World Public Health Crisis is bringing challenges and opportunities to be with each other and to share in the unending love of our God with each other and with the world. As we gather, I ask for your prayer for all in the world who have become sickened with the Covid19 virus and for all those who have lost loved ones to this disease. I invite you to visit our website www.spiritofhopemn.org as we will try to keep you informed of the changes and opportunities we will have as we step into the future together. I join with you in remembering the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans when he says: “Nothing, absolutely nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus”

Greeting: My friends—Our God is with you….

Let us pray:

Loving God, be with us this day and be with all leaders who are striving  to safeguard us from all that will bring us harm. Bless all those who are serving the ill and suffering. Comfort those who are struggling with grief and loss. Bring us , O God, to a new and keener awareness of our ultimate dependence on you who created and who sustain us in your love. May these days of this Lenten season renew us with a fervor for a deeper relationship with you. We lift this prayer in your name for we know you are One God forever and ever.

COME AND SEE!!!!!!!!!!!

John 4:5-42 The Woman at the Well

This story of the Woman at the Well, is one of the most powerful stories of trans-formative love in John’s Gospel. It touches one of the core plagues of our time as well. The plague to which I am referring is the plague of shame, not the plague of Covid19 that is sweeping across the world, but I will dare say that you will find the plague to which I am referring embedded in the rhetoric of this Covid19 outbreak, if you watch the news and listen carefully, The plague I am referring to, the plague of shame, seems to permeate our culture, our religious dialogues, our political rhetoric and often our online presence. There is, as Dr. Brene Brown so eloquently puts it, a big difference between shame and guilt. Shame says: I am a bad person. Guilt says: I did a bad thing. Guilt has the option of forgiveness; Shame as no option but self-annihilation.

As people we can say, and we often do…I am sorry for what I have done, will you forgive me. It is nearly impossible to say, I am sorry for who I am…. because that statement carries no option for forgiveness. What Jesus did in the encounter with the Woman at the Well, he also does for us. Jesus transformed her self-perceived, socially applied, and familial ingrained shame, into honest guilt, which in turned moved the woman from hopelessness to freedom.

We can see it in her proclamation to the towns folk: “She left her water jar and ran into the town and said: “Come and see someone who told me everything I have ever done!”

She left her water jar….that is not just a little fact….that is an important symbol…. water in the desert is life…. what Jesus did for the woman is he allowed her to see, for herself, that she is not defined by what she has done, she doesn’t have to sneak out alone to the well to draw water in the heat of the day…. the water jar is the symbol of shame that she was carrying all alone… and she set it down at the feet of Jesus and in her freedom she wanted to share her joy with the whole community…. come and see, come and meet the one who set me free!

This story in many ways captures the heart of the Lenten season and the Lenten experience…. It is precisely what and how we began this journey,

We began on Ash Wednesday….marking ourselves with ashes…. Not the mark of shame and not the words of shame…. We were marked with ashes….holy dust… from which and into which our God breathes life! We are dust…not dirt….. We are the stuff from which life, holiness, hope and joy, and peace and happiness is born…. We are not junk, we are not dirt to be trampled or despised, but rather we are the dust of the clay that is transformed into vessels in the hands of the potter.

In this unprecedented time in history my friends…. we need to be very careful and not let shame be the mark with which we mark one another…..

I have heard it already…..”those people didn’t tell us…..that fool should have done this…..or those people should just be all put in quarantine….” As if to say, they are dirt…. Jesus reminds us today and every day of our lives….we are dust…. Holy Dust….we are not and no one else is ever or will ever be dirt…. we are Holy Dust, that always holds the potential for transformation. Come and see she said….it’s amazing, it’s awesome… I have done some bad things, but I am not a bad person… I can be loved and so can you! Come and see!

As the People of God, we lift these prayers toward heaven and ask God to listen as Jesus did to the Woman at the Well and transform us all with an abundance of grace as we reply:

Loving God Hear our prayer: For the Church, that we may be a source of living water for all who thirst for meaning and purpose in their lives

Loving God Hear our prayer: For the grace of courage: that our encounters with Christ may strengthen us, free us from fear and embolden us to share our experience of knowing Christ

Loving God Hear our prayer: For a greater openness to the Word of God: that we may carefully listen to the scriptures, ponder them in our heart; and draw life from them

Loving God Hear our prayer: For a deepening of hope: that the Spirit of God will lead us into a more profound experience of the depth of God‘s love for us and renew our trust in God’s faithfulness as we face our daily challenges

Loving God Hear our prayer: For leaders, scientists, Drs. Nurses, and all health care providers, that through this pandemic of Covid19, they may be safe in their work, thoughtful  in their words, compassionate in their action and above all loving in their response to those who are ill.

Loving God Hear our prayer: For all the sick and suffering, in mind, body and spirit, may you Oh God grant them living water to refresh the weary soul.

Loving God Hear our prayer: And for those intentions you are lifting in your prayer:

Loving God Hear our prayer: Gracious God, we lift these prayers, those which we have spoken and those we have whispered from the depth of our hearts and ask if your  mystery they may be fulfilled because we know and celebrate that you are One God for ever and ever. Amen

We unite our prayer in that one prayer which Jesus invites us to pray: for we know our God as both Our Mother and Our Father…who art in heaven….

Having shared this time together and celebrated God’s presence in the Sacrament of the Word, let us pray:

Gracious God, we are living in the mystery, especially now, in this world health crisis. We pray that you guide us and guide all our leaders in the decisions that will be made on behalf of all peoples. Open us to possibilities, help us to see how we might speak your word of love into the hearts of all whom we meet. Listen to the crys of those who morn and those who stand in fear. Bring us the peace that surpasses all understanding, knowing full well you are with us every step of every day. In your name we pray, One God for ever and ever. Amen.

Let us go now…..and know

Please be safe, be well and keep checking our website for updates and opportunities. www.spiritofhopemn.org

God’s peace to you and your families….