• Session 3: The Well | Preparing for Prayer

    As you begin this time of prayer, pay attention to whatever sounds you can hear around you. You may be in a very quiet place; still, there is likely to be something you can hear. Or there may be a lot of noise round about you, all the clamour of everyday life. You may be in a very quiet place, or you may only be able to hear the music accompanying this prayer time, but even so, it’s likely you’ll be able to hear something. Whatever your surroundings are like just now, notice the different sounds, and notice, too, where they come from.
    Now bring your attention inwards, and concentrate on any sounds nearer to you. Let the others go – they’ll still be there in the background. But focus on anything you can hear nearby, in the room where you are or coming from whatever or whoever is closest by. Pay attention for a moment to those more immediate sounds.
    Now leave those sounds, and let them, too, fade into the background as you let your attention move inwards. Find a quiet place within yourself, and for a minute or two simply rest there, in the quiet at the centre of yourself.
    And hear God’s word spoken into that quiet place, as you listen to an encounter with Jesus from the Gospel of John. Following the reading, we invite you pause and use our supplementary Lectio Divina guide to help you meditate on the scripture in a deeper way.

  • Session 3 Reading: John 4:5-42

    ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’

    So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
    A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’
    Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’

    Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ They left the city and were on their way to him.
    Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples said to one another, ‘Surely no one has brought him something to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.’
    Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.’

  • Reflect

    • In our passage this week, we meet Jesus at a well in Samaria. He is on the mission given to him by his Father; his food was ‘to do the will of the one who sent him’. He is weary and thirsty. He finds himself in a foreign and hostile place because ‘Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans’. It is the hottest time of day, the sixth hour, the same time at which Pontius Pilate would hand him over for crucifixion (John 19:14).
    • At the well, Jesus meets a woman. We do not know her name. She came alone as if shunned by other women in her town. She refuses Jesus’s request for a drink. But Jesus insists that he has a gift for her, ‘living water’. In this Gospel of John, this signifies either the teaching that Jesus has to give, or the Holy Spirit, symbolised by the water that would pour out of his side once he had died (John 7:38; 19:34).
    • Thanks to his patient conversation with this woman, she asks Jesus for this water. She also deepens her understanding of his person. He was indeed greater than ‘our ancestor Jacob’; he was a prophet and he was the Messiah whom she and her people were expecting. Convinced by Jesus, she rushed back into town and, now on a mission herself, she urged her people to come and meet Jesus for themselves.

  • Talk to God

    Pause for a moment and invite Jesus, ‘the Saviour of the world’ to stay with you in this prayer time now…

    • Jesus and the woman are the major characters in the story. But we should not overlook the part played, or rather not played, by the disciples of Jesus. Their only interest seems to be in physical food. They leave Jesus alone at the well while they go off to buy food and on their return, they want Jesus to eat their food. We too often find ourselves preoccupied with the physical things of the world… As you pray with today’s passage, are there any distractions, any physical things of the world vying for your attention? You might like to name them, and then let them go…
    •  The other participants in the story are the townsfolk. They invite Jesus to stay in their town, and are so fascinated by what he has to tell them that they inform the woman that they need her help no longer. For them he is ‘the Saviour of the world’. Pause for a moment and invite Jesus, ‘the Saviour of the world’ to stay with you in this prayer time now…
    • As we come to the end of our third session, may we open ourselves now to Jesus who is still on a mission in our world. May we welcome the living water which he offers us in word and sacrament.