“Thirsty? A sermon on the Samaritan Woman at the Well”
by Rev. Ruth Everhart


The text is John 4:5-42, the story of Jesus’ encounter with a woman at the well in Sychar.

Thirst is real, and water is a justice issue. When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well, he implicitly challenged every cultural assumption about who is worthy of his time and conversation. But this shift has been slow to percolate through the cultural layers of church and society. Rev. Ruth Everhart considers the Samaritan woman’s story in tandem with her own, because gender still shapes a woman’s world. How did living water trickle through the layers of an oppressive church system and the horror of rape at gunpoint? Because the living water is still available, and still ever-fresh. (Year A, Lent 3)

Virtual Pilgrim: Underneath Jerusalem’s Western Wall

Are you looking for ways to “walk with Jesus” during this season of Lent? I invite you to check out the videos produced by Eran Frenkel in Jerusalem. His most recent video takes us through the Western Wall Tunnels. This is a place I wasn’t able to see on my pilgrimage, and I so enjoyed “being there” virtually.

Visit Eran’s site — JerusalemExperience.com — to find transcription of the narrative and many more videos. You can also subscribe to Eran’s YouTube channel and share these resources with others.

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Ashes & Valentines

Love is endless, life is not

Ashes & Valentines collide this year, which remind me of a book our kids loved when they were little: “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. This picture book revolves around a song, which a parent sings to their child:

“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.”

The bottom line is this: love may be endless, but life is not. It’s a good song for the collision of ashes and valentines. What an appropriate reminder to tell the people we love that our love is endless.  “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always.” At the same time, we are reminded to meditate on the fact that everything –including we ourselves –will some day die. Ashes to ashes. “As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”

The two events create a certain tension. What dies and what lasts forever? (more…)

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#31 Lent Pilgrimage, Shortcut to Glory

Wednesday after Fifth Sunday in Lent

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them. ~Mark 9:2

Mount Tabor, which is believed to be the site of Jesus’ transfiguration, rises from a flat plain. The road to the top is a series of hairpin curves too intense for a bus. We climb into taxis. Previous generations of pilgrims would have spent days making this trek, which we accomplish in twenty minutes, slamming from side to side across the bench seat.

Have you ever made an arduous hike up a mountain to find God? Or do you sometimes seek a shortcut?

Prayer: O Creator, forgive my rush to moments of glory.

Click here for Day #32.

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Virtual Pilgrim: The Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Are you planning to visit Jerusalem, or do you wish you could?

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a vast building with a confusing layout and centuries of tumultuous history. There are chapels upon chapels, and that is meant literally, as chapels are stacked upon each other. I’ve talked to pilgrims who loved this site, and pilgrims who were overtaken by tears. I do know that the church is overwhelming with its labyrinthian quality, plus the emotions engendered by being in the place where Jesus is said to have died and was buried.

In my book about my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I describe my experiences at the Stone of Anointing, which were powerful.

Here is a wonderful, 8 minute video of the church. If you are planning to go, you will appreciate the orientation this gives you. If you have already been, this video will refresh your memory and allow you to “go there” again. If you are unable to travel, you will at least have seen the highlights of this holy place.

I have become (virtual) friends with the filmmaker, Eran Frenkel, and am impressed with his work. I hope you’ll check out his website, JerusalemExperience and consider subscribing to his channel. I will link more of his videos during Lent. Between his videos and my writings, you can become a virtual pilgrim to the Holy Land this Lent.

As always, I invite you to leave your reactions in a comment!

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Virtual Pilgrim: The Mount of Temptation

Lectionary Study on Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13

Need a break? I invite you to take a 5-minute pilgrimage to Jericho!

This video will take you to the Mount of Temptation, a hill high above Jericho which is the home of an ancient monastery. The site is associated with the story of Jesus being tempted by the devil, which is told in  Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13.

This video was made by Eran Frenkel. Check out his videos about other sites in and around Jerusalem at www.JerusalemExperience.com.

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Holy Thursday — Jesus & Judas at the Table

Lectionary Study on John 13:1-7, 31b-35

On this Maundy Thursday I wanted to share an image of Jesus at table with his disciples. The carving below shows all twelve disciples — it’s a bit hard to see John, whose head is lying in Jesus’ lap. What makes this depiction of the Last Supper unique is the identity of the disciple at the center of the piece — the one receiving the bread from Jesus’ hand. Who do you think that is?

Here’s a hint: He’s holding a moneybag in his hand.

Holy Blood Altarpiece

Holy Blood Altarpiece

This artwork is called the “Holy Blood Altarpiece.” It’s a reliquary, meaning that it was built to hold a relic, which is a drop of Jesus’ blood. The drop of blood is in a vessel above this panel. The altarpiece was carved by Tilman Riemenschneider at the beginning of the Reformation, and is a very large piece, still in its original installation in southern Germany. I really don’t know much else about it.

But I find it quite moving that an artist would put Judas at the center of this work, below Jesus’ shed blood, inviting the viewer to identify with the disciple who betrayed Jesus. So often we shy away from comparing ourselves to this betrayer. Judas is certainly a complicated figure and most Christians push away from him. Yet Jesus washed Judas’ feet, and included him in the sacrament of the supper. Like all of us, Judas is literally beneath the mercy seat in this depiction.

I learned about this artwork last Sunday, when I attended church with my parents, at Church of the Servant, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During the Adult Ed hour, there was a presentation of Lenten-related artwork by Professor Craig Hanson, from Calvin College. What a gift to learn and listen!

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Bethphage in Jerusalem

entering the Palm Sunday Chapel

Do you love the Palm Sunday story?

There is a Palm Sunday Chapel in Bethphage, just outside the old city of Jerusalem. It’s a Franciscan chapel situated on the road that passes by the Mount of Olives — a person might take this road to travel from Jerusalem to Jericho.

ImageAccording to the gospels, Bethphage is the spot where the disciples procured a donkey for Jesus, which he then rode into Jerusalem as the people waved palm branches. If you and I were on pilgrimage in Jerusalem this Holy Week, we might walk this same road. (Incidentally, this is along the path pictured on the cover of my book.)

Me, in the chapel at Bethphage, which is known as the "Palm Sunday Chapel."

Me, in the chapel at Bethphage, which is known as the “Palm Sunday Chapel.”


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A Refrain for Lent: Living Water

World Water Day

Saturday is World Water Day. Sunday’s lectionary text is the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, found here (via Bible Gateway).

Here’s a refrain I long ago adapted from somewhere. For months I had the words perched on the windowsill near the sink so I could hum it as I did dishes. Why not make up your own little tune?

Living Water, like a river

like a fountain, like the sea.

Living Water, ever flowing,

ever rising, rise in me.

Tubing on the Shenandoah River last summer

Tubing on the Shenandoah River last summer

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A Haiku: Lent & St. Patrick’s Day



Boston Irish Famine Memorial, my photo

Boston, overnight.

Lodged well, Fed well, Found this plaque,

Which has been forgot.

Plaque, Boston Irish Famine Memorial, my photo.

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