The Lessons:

Exodus 17:1-7

John 4:5-42

Is the lord among us or not?

Jesus sits by a well and says, “if you but knew the gift of god”

But we’re never really sure.  We’re waiting for a ripening or the right place we are to worship or our needs to be met or a sign or certainty, or the end point, the destination – and in this pursuit, this waiting as kind Christian [or Christian-ish] people we try to be reflective and patient as we’re figuring it out.

Jesus says, take a closer look and you will see that the fields are ripe and ready for harvest [now].

I send you to harvest where you haven’t labored –

You haven’t earned this, worked for it –

It’s all here for you

Do you know what that means?

There is so much meaning in these two readings, beautiful symbolism.  Even just the images – There is the contrast of the desert – Isrealites scared and dehydrated – and the well full of clear water, Jesus having a meaningful conversation, respect and teaching across differences.

Is the lord among us or not?

Jesus says the fountain is within you.  The gift is already handed over.

I don’t know what that means.

My experience is that I so cannot receive this information, I hold god – this fountain, this gift – far from me.  That I wrestle like a big dog in a tight sweater out and away from my own inner experience of god and my experience of god in you.  And I almost imagine her just telling me to stop.

I have shared with many of you that my most profound experience of god is in relationship – in moments of connection with others where time stops.  Where I am completely present.  These god moments can be willing myself to see the face and meet the eyes of a person experiencing homelessness. When I’m listening to by best friend and she’s telling stories about the huge wood fired kiln she’s been feeding all week and it’s ancient – I’m just so in awe and in love with her.  Or the moment when Kerri and I, scared and angry, stop fighting, soften and turn to each other.

In these moments god is among us and I actually notice.

The implicit question in these readings I think is what is that we need to see, or feel, or get to fully receive god?

Jesus is teaching us what we want – not the superficial, the compensations, addictions, and so on – but our deeper desire to actually receive god in us.

So how do we do that?


I’ll tell you a story:  I’m fond of saying that people only have so many drinks in their life, I just happened to have all mine before age 35.  Sometimes people laugh, more often people get weird – like apologizing for drinking because I’m sober, as though not getting drunk is some sort of disability, which doesn’t make any sense at all.

I stopped drinking because I was fearful I was going to kill someone.  I couldn’t manage to not drink and drive.  That is one important reason why I stopped.

The other reason I stay sober is more pervasive, and more to the question in these readings which is why I’m sharing it with you now.  I only found it many months in to being sober.  I found that I was so uncomfortable in my own skin, and meanwhile so deeply thirsty for connection, this way that I experience the divine — and drinking made this desire and discomfort manageable.  I feel the loneliness that is in me most days, and it made that manageable too.

So I kept drinking – again and again at that well – instead of receiving that god is right here.  Because you can’t selectively numb, if you numb the yearning in you, you muffle the voice of god in you too.  (And you keep going back to that well looking to be sated.)  I packed her up tight in several manhattans.  I bet you do that too, although perhaps not with alcohol.

And god is like, the gift is already given.  Just pick it up.


So what do we do?  What do we do to actually receive that god is among us? To be the force of love that we are called to be in our deepest selves?  I think one thing to do is to not muffle the yearning.

Another story:  Kerri and I have agreed to be married.  We want to have a small family and support each other in living a meaningful life in community.  We want to love each other well.  Be civically engaged.  I desire this connection – this experience of god in the mundane of dishes and broken dryers and which toilet you poop in.  The experience of god in the birth of a child, the death of a parent, reconciliation when it is a labor to do it.

Kerri meets me in this desire.  Kerri and I, god willing, will walk each other home.  This is a terrifying experience for me.

So we’re having dinner and I’m saying how scared I am to get married because Kerri is an example of a gift I haven’t earned.  Marriage is not an exchange – it isn’t equal – it is a constellation of grace.  By definition: a lifetime of care and forgiveness I haven’t earned.

So I’m sobbing about this and they say: “I wish for you to slow down, sit at the table, and realize it is all already here for you.”


Is the lord among us?

Yes.  But I sure do everything in my capacity to avoid the harvest.  To try to earn the gift I’ve already been given.

My path today is at least to not muffle the yearning for god in me – not when it’s uncomfortable or frightening.

And then maybe I experience a faucet of god dribbling in me …


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