by Brian Mateer
For me the season of Lent is one of the most special and spiritual times of the year. I enjoy all of the seasons of the Christian calendar but Lent holds the most meaning for me. Lent is a personal and communal journey and time of connectedness with God that feels as if I am in the plot of a great drama. My nature is to rush to Easter morning but I know that if I do I will miss so much on the way of the journey. If we fast forward to Eater we are depriving ourselves of the penitent nature of Ash Wednesday; the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness mirroring, in a small way, the temptation of sacrifice I have chosen as a discipline during this 40 day period; the high and intense crescendo of Holy Week; the gift of celebrating the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday; the gut wrenching feeling of the crucifixion on Good Friday; the silence of Holy Saturday; and finally the climax and celebration of Easter morning. It can be difficult to be patient and to wait for the resurrection.
Reading through John 4:5-42, we realize that Jesus was tired from being on a journey. He rests at Jacob’s Well, while the disciples go find something to eat (v.8). While sitting beside the well “wearily”, he encounters a Samaritan woman that has been on a journey of her own, a life journey. We find out a little about her life story and that she had had five husbands and the man she is living with nowis not her husband (V.17-18). It seems as though this woman is looking for something that has been unquenched by the men she has had in her life. Jesus offers her “living water” so that she may never be thirsty again. Jesus declares to her that “I Am the Messiah!” (v. 26). I Am the love that you are seeking! I Am all you need for your journey!
Additionally, Jesus also declares to everyone. He is the “I Am” for all of our journeys. The woman is “surprised” (v. 9) that Jesus even speaks to her because she is a Samaritan. The disciples are “shocked” (v. 27) to return to see Jesus even talking to a woman. Jesus Christ, the Messiah for All people in All places!
In closing, I am intrigued that Jesus choses to pause his journey and spend two days in the Samaritan village. When I begin a journey, I always have the end goal or destination in mind. I never leave time for rest. I never leave time for a side trip. I have a linear perspective of a starting point and an ending point and a timeline of getting there. Perhaps this is the reason why the journey of Lent is so special to me. Lent allows for; and creates time for reflection, introspection, rest and communion with God and others. Thanks be to God for this journey, in His time not my own.
Brian Mateer is t he Director of Youth Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Martinsville, Virginia.