I call this court to order.
The case of the Israelites vs. the Lord will now be heard.
The question before us, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
The plaintiff claims that they have been brought out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, to die of thirst in the wilderness.”
The defendant’s response is to strike a rock, to bring water to a dry place.
The defendant would also like to state for the record that the Israelites need to stop complaining.
The court drama is played out before us in the exodus reading this morning. It attests to a feisty and rocky (no pun intended) relationship between the Lord and the whole congregation of the Israelites. Each demanding the other to be faithful.
So the question. The miracle of water in the wilderness. Is it a solution to a problem, a fix it to a broke it kind of situation. You want proof here it is.
Is that what is going on?
Or is it something else? Something about water in a dry place. Finding God in the unlikely and unexpected? Like water in a dry place. How is the Lord among us?
Is faith like that? A solution to a problem. A fix it in a broke it situation?
Or is faith what happens when there is no solution, no fix it?
It is found in the unexpected, the unlikely and the ill-prepared.
Faith is like water in a dry place, not a solution, but a surprise.
The miracle is faith being found between a rock and a hard place, faith on the rocks.
Is God God when no solution ever comes? When there is no water, no relief, no fix it? Only thirst.
This is the hard stuff of God, not the frilly consumer faith of the comfortable and the satisfied, but the faith that is found in suffering. The faith of the cross.
The resurrection is not a solution to the unfortunate problem of the cross. Rather the cross releases the power of God. It is the surprise of water in that bone dry desolation. Why? Why water in that dry place?
The Samaritan woman at the well. History has expected the worst of her, calling her a serial monogamist, a prostitute, an adulterer. In reality, she was probably married young to an older husband, and passed along to brother after brother as they each in turn all died, one by one, the last brother refusing to be married to her. You inherited your brother’s bride. It was a life defined by tragedy and being treated like property, of being powerless and passed along. It was not an uncommon fate for women of the time.
The irony of the story is that this tragic figure, who is also a Samaritan, not a good Jew, came to faith. She recognized who Jesus was and she brought others to see the one who saw her life, who saw her, who spoke with her, who was the water that was thirsted for.
Faith in a dry place, an unexpected place, a woman of grief, passed over by life, a Samaritan, finds faith and brings others to faith. Not a famous successful person of prosperity, but a tragic figure who endured.
Salvation does come from the Jews, the irony that John’s Gospel so often revels in, is faith in that salvation is found in Samaritans, they drink deeply from that well. Faith is found in the most unexpected, and unlikely places, a surprise, like water in a dry place.
Faith in a dry place, unexpected and ill-prepared, in the bone dry tombs of the world.
God is like that. Found in dry places. In the unexpected and the ill-prepared.
We, in turn, are invited to share that blessing, that in the darkness, God is present.
Be water in a dry place.
A thirsty world awaits.
Is the Lord among us or not?
The court is in session.
Make your case. (hammer)