Home Service Sunday 12th March 2023

Prayers of Approach

Come, everyone who is thirsty. Come, the lost and the seekers. Come, the lonely and the welcomers. Come, the sad and the comforters. Come, the empty and the generous. Come as you are, with your questions and beliefs. Come and drink at the well of living water. Come and worship the living God.

Lord, we are drawn to your well to seek the water of eternal life. Refresh us with your Word. Surround us with your Love. And fill us to overflowing with your Spirit, the water of life, that we may never be thirsty.

May we see today that you know us, Lord, through and through. May we hear that you are our Saviour, and be astonished by your amazing love and acceptance.

Lord God, we too want to receive. And to give. We offer ourselves to you so you can do your mighty work in us. Amen.

Hymn Guide me, O thou great Jehovah (R&S 345)

Readings: Exodus 17:1-7

John 4:5-42


In Exodus 17 God provides his thirsty people with life-giving water from a rock. In John 4 Jesus anticipates the divine love and life-giving grace, flowing from him via the water of the Holy Spirit, in his conversation with the Samaritan woman, as he enlarges the world of her people and his.

The scarcity of food and water was a source of testing in the wilderness. In Exodus 16, the people complained for lack of bread, and God tested their readiness to follow his instructions by supplying quails and manna. In chapter 17, water is short, and Moses takes the people’s complaints as a test of God’s promise to bring them safely into their own land. Water in the wilderness becomes an ambiguous sign: on the one hand blessing and life, on the other the struggle to trust (as the names Massah and Meribah imply).

In the Gospel reading Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman about ‘living water’. He reveals himself to be the long-awaited Messiah, the Saviour of the world. Many Samaritans come to believe in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony.

Hymn I heard the voice of Jesus say (R&S 349)


People take a variety of meanings from today’s Gospel passage. Everyone agrees that Jesus was breaking convention, speaking with a Samaritan woman. What does it mean to us today, to accept and be accepted and to drink from the well of living water?

In this passage Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well in the heat of the day. No one goes out to draw water in the hottest sun in the Middle East unless they have to. This woman had to because she was an outcast from society. Culture dictated that Jesus shouldn’t have spoken to her for a number of reasons: because she was a woman in a male-dominated world, because she was a Samaritan (an outsider to the Jews), and because she had been in several different relationships – which was unacceptable in her community. But Jesus chose to engage with her. The woman already had faith in God and, instead of putting her down, Jesus chose to build her up, to help her see things differently, to dream together with her about a better future. Jesus valued her as a person, perhaps in a way that no one else ever had.

Jesus engages with her concerns about cultural identity and religious authenticity. As he did with Nicodemus in the previous chapter, he seems to speak in riddles at first, but the mention of ‘living (i.e. flowing) water’ leads eventually to its source as God’s gift. The story’s rich symbolism reveals its surplus of meaning. ‘Spirit’ is more like water than wind in this conversation. Literal and metaphorical waters flow back and forth between the woman and Jesus, and then to her community and back to Jesus. Leaving her water jar behind, the unnamed woman, an outsider in her own community, dashes off to tell people about this amazing encounter with an incredible man. She becomes an evangelist as she runs to tell the village about Jesus, people who probably ostracise her. As a result of sharing her story with her own people, some of them come to meet Jesus and find out for themselves who he is: ‘the

Saviour of the world’ who reconciles divided peoples.

Unlike the Israelites in the desert who could only complain about the situation in which they found themselves and God’s apparent ‘abandonment’ of them, the Samaritan woman kept her faith and hope despite her ostracism by her community. Brian Wren’s hymn, ‘I have no bucket and the well is deep’ (R&S 340), expresses her longing and seeking for God.

I have no bucket, and the well is deep.
My thirst is endless, and my throat is dry.
I ask you, stranger, silent at my side,
can words refresh my longings if you speak?

I have no bucket, and the well is deep.
Who are you, strange yet friendly at my side,
and can you see and judge, yet understand
my hidden self, and heal with wounded hands?

Are you the path, the gateway and the guide,
the keys, the living water, and the light?
Come break the rock, and bid the rivers flow
from deep unending wells of joy and worth,
for tears, for drinking, drowning and new birth,
and I shall find and give myself, and know
the keys, the living water, and the light.

(Brian Wren. Words © 1986 Hope Publishing Company, 380 S Main Pl, Carol Stream, IL 60188)

Jesus’ encounter with this woman makes us ask questions, like: how often do we share God’s good news?

Hymn Let us build a house where love can dwell (Singing the Faith 409) https://youtu.be/N9bOiAxwi4U

Prayers of Intercession

Lord, when we are thirsty you give us the water of life. When we feel alone you accept us into your family.

We pray for places around the world where there is no fresh water; for places that suffer constant drought, or where people have to walk miles to the nearest well. Water of life, quench us with your life-giving Spirit and bring hope. We pray for those on the margins of society because of their status, age, disability, background or race; those who seem to have no voice. Help us to hear their cries, to listen to their pleas. Help us to open our eyes and our ears. Water of life, quench us with your life-giving Spirit and bring hope. The Samaritan woman took a risk speaking to Jesus. We pray for all who take risks on a daily basis – in their jobs, for mere survival, to get food and water for their families; and for children involved in risky situations all over the world, trying to survive. Water of life, quench us with your life-giving Spirit and bring hope. We pray for those in our communities who need your water of life; those who are lonely, bereaved, sad, or have lost all hope. Bring them your comfort, joy and peace. Water of life, quench us with your life-giving Spirit and bring hope. Amen.

Hymn Have you heard the water drumming on the roof tops (‘Water of Life’: BBC Come and Praise) https://youtu.be/Ur96Xa_korU or https://youtu.be/2Atfr07wPjc


Lord, we thank you that we are accepted. We thank you that we belong. We thank you that you give us the water of life to drink.

As we go through this week help us to be accepting of others, and invite them to drink your water too.

And may your blessing rest on us, now and always. Amen.

Prayers and other material © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.