St. Augustine of Hippo


Episcopal Church

 


Give Me Some Water


March 19, 2017


The Reverend Nathanael Saint-Pierre 



It is human that every time we deal with disagreement, we quarrel. Rebellion against leadership is often one way to express disapproval and distance oneself. I have been on both ends of dealing with issues, as leader and as protester. Nevertheless, as a Christian, I now know that quarreling is not a solution. It just amplifies the disagreements. It is always more productive to face our issues together and seek for solutions. But it is so much easier to blame someone else that we forget all basic rules of savoir-vivre to play the blame game. It’s like we didn’t anticipate problems before; it’s like we see life as a perfect road without any bumps. 


When Israel was on its journey to the Promised Land, the people could not appreciate Moses' accomplishments. They ignored the freedom they were enjoying and the end of slavery in Egypt. They emphasized the lack of water and did not want to assume responsibility for what was happening. How many of us don’t look at what we have; instead, always complain about what is missing? It’s almost as if, when something is missing, something bad is happening, God is responsible, God is absent, God is not in our midst. Paul wrote the following to the Romans: “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us". That gift of the Holy Spirit is the discernment to see God’s presence in the midst of our problems, times of trial, storms and earthquakes of life.

 

The Annie Walsh Old Girls Association (AWOGA) is a group that made today's gospel very true to me. This is a group of women who are expressing their gratitude by supporting education in Sierra Leone; they could find all kinds of excuses to quarrel among themselves and take the first exit out of the challenging mission they are responding to. Instead, they are working diligently to quench the thirst for education of many girls who otherwise would not be able to get educated. You cannot believe how proud I am that our church agrees to host this thanksgiving Eucharist every other year to show support and be involved with them in this project. I am particularly proud of two of our members; Dinah Williams, who is still active and Sylvia Sylvah, who has gone home to the creator but was a founding member of AWOGA.  While the AWOGA women could pretend that living in the Diaspora, in recent days, is already challenging enough to absorb their energy, while they could invoke the fact that they fought enough for themselves to be where they are, so they have no obligation to fight for others, these Anglican women respond to Jesus' call: “give me some water.” Sierra Leone is not an easy place. There are many challenges there. Recently, we all have heard about the Ebola pandemic and the fear people have to travel there. I’ve seen people making a big deal just because of a few mosquitoes or the presence of a few viruses down south in this country. It is heroic to see the women of AWOGA expose their own lives, going back home to offer support and accompaniment. “They live by faith and not by sight.” 


Jesus’ invitation is for us to get outside of our comfort zone to be the members of his body. We are not members of his body to box, fight and quarrel with our arms and feet. We are members of Jesus’ body to go around the world and bring his word of relief, grace and salvation to all. We are not faced with the obligation to question, put God to the test, and figure out all God's ways. We are called to change. The Samaritan woman was called to change and responded to it with hesitation. She chose to defend herself and even lied about her life. This is deeply human and the temptation we are all faced with. But with Jesus, we had better be who we are. To receive grace, we had better acknowledge our sins. We can’t fool God; faking it is not among the options. 


On this third Sunday of Lent, let us come before God, standing beside those with their backs to the wall, to ask Jesus for some water; water that can clean us inward out, water that can quench our thirst for justice and peace. Remember that running after food and material wealth might be the normal temptation. But Jesus said: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.” Our satisfaction is to get our job done, not to please everyone watching (which is called a show). In very harsh circumstances, quarreling will not bring us the healing so desperately needed. But a sense of common grace, mutual forgiveness (keyword is MUTUAL) and perseverance will most likely produce the Christian outcome we should all strive toward.