Sermon for the Third Sunday in Lent 03/15/20
Sermon for the Third Sunday in Lent March 15, 2020 Preacher: The Rev. Bret B. Hays
Crises bring out the best and the worst in us. Recently I preached about the appalling racism that the current health crisis brought out, and more recently, people have been hoarding cleaning supplies and basic necessities — not just out of fear, but also in some cases to resell the items at inflated prices. And I’m upset about that too, in part because I didn’t think of it first. But I can’t get too upset, because like a lot of other people in positions of responsibility I had to spend a lot of time last week improvising responses to a fast-changing situation, based on incomplete and sometimes contradictory information, while realizing there are no good options, and anything I decide will bring criticism and second-guessing — especially from myself.
Under these circumstances, it would be easy to fall into denial, overreaction, selfishness, paralysis, or panic, and I try not to judge people who do, or who make different decisions than I did, or than I would have made in their place. But the situation is not entirely negative. As is often noted, a crisis also often contains opportunity.
Today’s Gospel story is a series of crises, at least in the sense of the original Greek word krisis, which means “decision.” The characters are forced to make decisions they might not have contemplated, and though there are moments of great tension, wonderful things come out of them. A strange man approaching and talking to a woman was itself a moment of crisis in that culture, and to her credit, the Samaritan woman chooses to engage with Jesus, and despite her narrow, literal interpretation of his words, she holds her own and challenges him. Perhaps this strength of character is why she becomes one of the earliest evangelists, alerting her community that the Messiah could be in their midst.