Third Sunday of Lent Spiritual Practices and Summary

Broken, Exposed, Resurrected
A piece of white sea glass is held between an index finger and thumb against a beach background. Image courtesy of Markus De Nitto via Pixabay.

There's no wrong way to work through what is happening (or not) in your life at this time. Be honest, be gentle with yourself. You are beloved even when life is overwhelming.

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This week our journey through Lent continued with one poem, four steps, and the story of the Samaritan woman at the well with Jesus. I’m including these here for you to review and use as you like.

“At the Well” by Ann King based on John 4:5-42

I am used to being the only one at the well.
I go at noon to avoid the glares
from the village women,
who soon will tell me how their lives
are more acceptable than mine.

But this time there is a man,
a weary man, alone in the sun.
By his dress I guess he is a Jew,
so I will go quickly and not bother him.

Oh! He speaks to me. He asks for water.
What is this? What does it mean
for a Jewish man to talk to a Samaritan outcast woman?
In my world, this isn’t done.
Of course, I draw him water, grateful to be seen.

Boldy, I ask him why he breaks the custom
and he makes a strange reply.
He tells of living water,
which quenches thirst forever.
This excites me! I would never
have to make this trek again.
I ask where I can get such water.
Then he says,
“Go call your husband; bring him here.”

I say, “I have no husband,” and he tells me, “True.
You have had five husbands,
and the one that’s with you now
does not belong to you.”
How did he know?
How can he see these things,
the things that make me scorned?
I fear that this amazing man will turn away
and think of me as the village does.
But no, his gaze is still on me.

I say, “You are a prophet, Sir,”
and then we talk of how we worship God.
Our ways are different
(I on the mountain; he in the temple),
but I know on one thing we will agree:
The Messiah is coming.

And he says, “I am he.”

I struggle to understand, and his friends return
from wherever they were; they seem surprised
to see us converse, but they don’t interfere.

Now I must go. I do not belong with the men.
My head spins as I walk to town,
and suddenly, I am filled with joy,
for I have seen and heard wonderful things.
When villagers approach, I forget myself and call,
“Come and see the man who has told me
all I have done! Can he be the Messiah?”

And they come! They come!
The people listen to me and follow.
They question him; he teaches them.
he will stay with us a while.

I am still different, but I am not afraid.
God has blessed me, the outcast,
and together with the rest of the village,
I will find that living water.

Step Four through Seven of the Twelve Steps

    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
    5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
    6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
    7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

*While the Steps refer to alcohol, anything can be an addiction. Some addictions are recognized and treated, while others might be socially acceptable. Even if an addiction is socially acceptable, it may still be causing your life to be unbalanced.

Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. For Twelve Step usage and copyright information read here.

Scripture Passage

Read John 4:5-42

Recommended Spiritual Practices for this Second Week in Lent

  1. You may continue with any of the practices from last week. You may choose to continue with a variation of the Ignatian Daily Examen: When did you feel close to God? When did God seem further away? Or when did you feel the most grateful? When did you feel the least grateful?

    You may wish to try writing the responses to one set of these questions everyday for the week. You can choose the time of day that works best for you and reflect on the previous 24 hours. If you are continuing this practice from last week, you may notice a theme or pattern emerging that may be helpful.

  2. Write down your own moral inventory. Be honest with yourself about who you are and who you are not, what you have done and what you have not done. Leave nothing out. And, as suggested this Sunday morning, you may wish to begin with the statement, “I am a beloved child of God.” If it helps, end with the same statement.

    Also, you do not have to complete this moral inventory in one sitting. Do it over the course of the week, or the next several weeks.

  3. If it is more helpful for you to be more active, try going outside with your camera and taking photos of two opposite emotions. You could choose joy and sorrow, love and fear, hope and despair, delight and anger … any set of opposite emotions.

    When you are done either one day or each day of the week, create a collage – digital or printed – and think about how these emotions live side-by-side in you and notice where you discover holiness in their midst.

  4. If all of this is more than you can think about this season, consider just sitting for a few moments in quiet, letting your thoughts and mind slow down. If quiet doesn’t work for you, listen to music or browse through some artwork. Take a few minutes to slow down and notice what comes up for you.

  5. If this season is too heavy in your life, then consider inviting someone in. Talk to someone honestly and openly about what you are feeling and/or experiencing. And if talking it through is too much, then write it all down and offer it to God.

  6. There’s no wrong way to work through what is happening (or not) in your life at this time. Be honest, be gentle with yourself. You are beloved even when life is overwhelming.

About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. She holds graduate degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale (formerly Andover Newton Theological School). Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and accessibility. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others. She is grateful to be in ministry with Living Table today.

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