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Dramatic Gospel Presentation and Liturgy for The Third Sunday in Lent - Year A
Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; John 4:5-42
"The Woman of Samaria"

READING:  Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; John 4:5-42
SERMON :  "The Woman of Samaria"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
Charlene E. Fairchild
a-le03su 971
     The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
     for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
     found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
     SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.

     Sources: The concluding phrases of the Prayers of the People are
     based on those found in John Maynard's "Prayers and Litanies for
     Lent Two, Year A", 2002 as sent to the PRCL-List.

     Sources: "The Woman of Samaria" was written by Charlene Fairchild 
     in 1994 and adapted for presentation in worship by her in 2002. 
     Elements of the Prayers of the People are taken from John Maynard,
     "Prayers and Litanies for Lent 3A" as sent to the PRCL List in 2002.

     The original form of the Woman of Samaria can be found here 

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)

L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  I sought the Lord and He answered me.
P  He delivered me from all my fears.
L  Look to Him and be radiant, so your faces shall never be ashamed.
P  The Lord hears our cry and saves in our troubles.
L  Many are our afflictions and troubles.
P  But the Lord delivers us through them all.
L  The Lord is full of love and greatly to be praised.
P  We give thanks to the Lord our God
   and him only will we worship and serve.

* INTROIT:  "What Does The Lord Require of You"                    - VU 701

- Welcome and Announcements    
- Birthdays and Anniversaries     
- Special Matters      
- Sharing Joys and Concerns

MUSIC OF PREPARATION (music and silent prayer)

Almighty and everlasting God, we find in you the deepest love that we can
imagine.  From you comes the water that wells up to eternal life.  You
watch over and protect you people.  As we come before you this day help us
to let go of all our fears and our worries and to take upon ourselves the 
mind that you want us to have.  Grant that our prayer may rise to you  even
as Christ comes down into our hearts.  Lead us God and by your grace we
shall follow and praise your name both now and forevermore.  Amen.

* HYMN: "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah"                           - VU 651

CHILDREN'S TIME:  "Living Water"
Object    Small Glass, Large Bowl, Pitcher of Water
Theme     God's Love Overflowing
Source    Original Concept from Children's Sermon Service Plus - Cycle A -
          March, April May 1996 - Vol 26. no 2.

Good Morning...  Water is a very important thing.  We need it to live.  God
gives us the water of life. When I think of God's love for me - and how
much love he has - I get a picture in my mind - I think of how God uses
water as a symbol of his love - and I think of myself as a cup or glass.

We all need love - just like we need water.   God pours his love into me -
God fills me with love - he refreshes me and makes me feel good - it's a
wonderful thing - and I am thankful to have God's love.  I always want to
be open to his love   to face his life giving stream of life, rather than
to be turned away from it - so even when it is all around me   I am still

Remember to turn towards God   and he will give you what you need.

But do you know something - God doesn't stop filling me with his love.  God
keeps on pouring and pouring (let it run over into the bowl).  He never
stops pouring out his love.  Why do you think that God keeps on pouring out
his love anyway???  Why does God give me more than enough love???

God give me more love than I can handle so that I may use that extra love
to love others with.  That's  why I love you so much and love others as
well.  God has filled me with so much love that I can't use it all myself. 

(Take the bowl of water and show it).  What do you think we could do with
all this extra water?  What uses could we put it too???  

So it is with God's love - that's why we talk about all the time -- God's
love for us never runs out - there is always more than enough - so that we
can love others just the way God loves us - with his  love.

   We thank you God - for life and love - poured out so richly upon us. 
   - Grant that we may always share - the things you have given us -
   and make the world better every day.  Amen.

   And in the word's Jesus taught us:

   Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom
   come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this
   day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive
   those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but
   deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the
   glory, for ever and ever.  Amen

* HYMN:  "I Danced In The Morning"                                 - VU 352

   (NIV) The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin,
   travelling from place to place as the LORD commanded.  They camped at
   Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.  So they
   quarrelled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink." 

   Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to
   the test?" 

   But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against
   Moses.  They said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and
   our children and livestock die of thirst?" 

   Then Moses cried out to the LORD, "What am I to do with these people?
   They are almost ready to stone me."

   The LORD answered Moses, "Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you
   some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which
   you struck the Nile, and go.  I will stand there before you by the rock
   at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people
   to drink." 

   So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called
   the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarrelled and
   because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"

L  This is the Word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.

RESPONSIVE READING:  Psalm 95 (Voices United 814) and Gloria Patri Sung
       Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy
       Spirit.   As it was in the beginning, is now, and evermore
       shall be.  World without end.  Amen

   (NIV)  Jesus came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of
   ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.  Jacob's well was there, and
   Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was
   about the sixth hour. 

   When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you
   give me a drink?" (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

   The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan
   woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with

   Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that
   asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given
   you living water." 

   "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is
   deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our
   father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did
   also his sons and his flocks and herds?"

   Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
   but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the
   water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to
   eternal life." 

   The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get
   thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." 

   He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back."

   "I have no husband," she replied. 

   Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. 
   The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is
   not your husband.  What you have just said is quite true." 

   "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers
   worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we
   must worship is in Jerusalem." 

   Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will
   worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  You
   Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know,
   for salvation is from the Jews.  Yet a time is coming and has now come
   when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth,
   for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.  God is spirit,
   and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth." 

   The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming.  When
   he comes, he will explain everything to us." 

   Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he." 

   Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking
   with a woman.  But no one asked, "What do you want?" or "Why are you
   talking with her?"  

   Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said
   to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.
   Could this be the Christ?"  They came out of the town and made their
   way toward him. 

   Meanwhile his disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat something." 

   But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."

   Then his disciples said to each other, "Could someone have brought him

   "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to
   finish his work.  Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the
   harvest'?  I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are
   ripe for harvest.  Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he
   harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper
   may be glad together.  Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is
   true.  I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have
   done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour."

   Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the
   woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did."  So when the
   Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed
   two days.  And because of his words many more became believers.  They
   said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said;
   now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is
   the Saviour of the world."

L  This is the gospel of our Risen Lord
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

   O Lord, as we sing our next hymn and as we listen to the
   presentation of the Gospel that is to come afterwards, we ask that
   you would bless those who seek to proclaim your word in this time
   and that you would speak to us through them and in the calming of
   our minds and in the longing of our hearts.  We ask it in the name
   of Jesus.  Amen

* HYMN:  "Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us With Your Love"                        VU 593

GOSPEL PRESENTATION: "The Woman of Samaria"

          CUES AND SETTING: For the most part the following is a
          dramatic monologue with some "enactments" involved. 
          The action takes place at the front of the Sanctuary. 
          Five persons in period garments and minimal props are
          required to execute the following (Narrator, Woman at
          Well, Jesus, and two or more "crowd" figures).  The
          crowd goes and sits in the choir loft to start.  A
          portable garden "well" is in place somewhere near the
          centre or just off centre.  Jesus is still in the
          congregation.  The Narrator starts off at or near the
          Lectern.  The Woman at the Well is still seated in the
          congregation.  In this presentation that woman sings a
          song later in the presentation and so her guitar is up
          front.  The presentation can be done without the song.

          Note that the original form of this work can be found
          at Woman of Samaria

   The following piece of dialogue was written by Charlene Fairchild in
   1994 after an Annual Meeting of London Conference of the United Church. 
   At that Conference a variety of monologue presentations were done
   featuring various women of the Bible and their stories.  Charlene was
   attracted to the story of the Woman at the Well or as she is also
   known, the Woman of Samaria.  Her story and the underlying story of the
   water of life intrigued Charlene.  So she wrote the following
   interpretive dialogue using the passage which we heard in today's
   Gospel reading - The Woman of Samaria.  We hope that what we do here
   will allow you to get deeper into the story and make it your own.

                         The Woman Of Samaria  
                            (John 4:1-42)

There she goes ...
     the Woman of Samaria.
          I can see her in my mind's eye.
She is wearing a loose dress,
     the colour of burlap,
          somewhat like a long potato sack,
               cinched with a twisted cord of rope.
     It reaches down to a few inches above her sandalled feet.
She is wearing a headpiece of the same colour.
     It falls in folds halfway down her back.
On her right shoulder
          she is balancing a water jug,
               rather large in my eyes.
Surely it's heavy when it's full.

There she goes ...
     the Woman of Samaria ...
          walking to the well.
She travels down the well-worn path from town
     as it twists and turns,
          intimately acquainted, in her solitariness,
               with every curve,
                    every boulder and every lonely blade of grass.

Tunelessly she hums into the stillness
     of the noontime air.
Scuffing her feet,
          she raises little wisps of dust.
The perspiration beads on her upper lip
     and runs in rivulets down her back
          and between her breasts.
It is hot and sticky this time of the day
          but it's the only time she feels safe
               to go for the water she needs.
     Safe from the taunts and innuendos,
          the glares and the hisses,
               the damning laughter of the other women.
The heat of the cloudless sky is more merciful than they.

Walking along - alone - lost in her thoughts
      she is startled to hear voices   

                (Voices of the crowd mumbling in the

          coming towards her
               just around the bend.
She casts down her eyes and moves over ...
     to avoid the men she sees approaching.
          Glancing up briefly
               she catches one hostile glare. 

                 (A person in the crowd glares)

Glares are nothing new to her
     but this is different.
These men are Jews - not Samaritans - not her neighbours.
     They abruptly move further away from her
          as if she had the plague....
               Samaritans and Jews do not associate.

As she gets further along she no longer hears them.
Instead, the clicking and buzzing of countless insects grows louder.
     She relaxes and begins to sing a snatch of song,
               something she heard at a campfire one night.

          As the deer longs for flowing streams,
          so my soul longs for you, O God.
          My soul thirsts for the living God.
          When shall I come and behold the face of God?

Despite her dreary hard life - she still hopes,
     still clings to the stories
          she heard as a child about Yahweh.

                 (Jesus enters from the congregation and
                 goes to sit by the well.  Jesus will
                 stand and move about during the
                 conversation to give feeling to the
                 moments of his speech.)

At last the well is in sight.
     But, what is this?
          A man - alone - sits by the well.
               A Jew.  Another Jew.

She feels tense, wary
     all her senses are heightened.
          Danger screams through every second that passes.
               She is alone...
                    a woman alone with a strange man.
He is just sitting there
     looking dusty and worn and tired
          but strangely peaceful and calm
               and - despite the dust - radiant.

                 (The Woman of Samaria enters from the
                 back of the church.  She has been
                 walking slowly forward since Jesus
                 arrived at the front.  She sits; then
                 plays and sings her song.  Then the two
                 do the words of dialogue as the narrator

He smiles.
   He speaks.       (Jesus says "hello)

Breaks the silence and,
     in an instant,
          tears down the walls that distance ...
               that distance Jews and Samaritans
                  that distance Women and Men.

He speaks.

     "Give me a drink."

It is so astonishing that
     she blurts back the question,
          "How is it, that YOU, a JEW - a MAN,
               ask a drink of ME, a WOMAN of SAMARIA?"

This man wastes no time debating
     but challenges 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 is so startled, so overwhelmed,
     so on fire with excitement, she babbles:
         "You have no bucket!"
               "The well is deep."
                    "Where do you get this water?"
               "Are you better than our ancestor Jacob?"
          "Do you know what you're saying?"

To herself, she says,

     "I must be dreaming.  It must be the heat.
          I feel so dizzy."

This man goes on, in the midst of her confusion,

     "Everyone who drinks this water will thirst again
          but those who drink of the water I will give them
               will never again thirst.
          My water will become in them a spring
               of water, gushing up to eternal life."

"Sir," she pleads, "give me this water so I'll never be thirsty
     and I'll never have to come back here to draw water again."

She doesn't know what she is saying.
     She is standing on strange ground.
          Everything is upside down and different today in this place.

Then, the man totally blows her away.
    He knows everything about her, the whole sorry tale,

                 (The crowd talks about the Woman, making
                 grimaces and pointing fingers.)

       and tells her,    

                 (Jesus says gently and with compassion,
                 but firmly)

       "You've been living quite a crazy life."
       "you've had five husbands"
       "and the man you live with now is not your husband."
Back and forth this preposterous conversation goes.

Finally she tells him,

     "I know that Messiah is coming
            and when he comes
               he will tell us all things."

      "I am he!  The one who is speaking to you."

The words of the song from the campfire come back to her:

     "When shall I come and behold the face of God?"

                 (Jesus returns to his seat in the
                 congregation as the Woman at the Well
                 sits.  She reaches out her arms towards
                 him, saying with passion)

      "Can this be the Christ?"

                 (The Woman at the Well then moves into a
                 prayer-like posture which she maintains
                 until the others reach out.  The crowd
                 come out of the loft and stand behind
                 her..... Then the Narrator PLUS two
                 others continue with:)

Sister of Samaria,
     I reach out to you
          across the years,
To ask you about what happened that day.
     Can you tell me?
          Did he touch your heart?
               Did he really reach in and renew you?  (Pause.)
What happened to you after he left
     and the days and months went by?
          What happened when you heard
               he'd gone up to Jerusalem
                    to hang on a Cross and die?

Or, were you there?
     With the other women,
          at the foot of the cross?
               With his mother,
                    in an agonizing wait,
                         when darkness fell on the land?

O, Sister of mine,
     without a name,
          You are not anonymous!
               Your story's been told.
                    We're telling it new.
                         You are not anonymous!

Sister of Samaria,
     I reach out to you across the years.

                 (All reach out.  Jesus stands in his pew
                 and reaches towards the Woman who
                 reaches out to him.  The Narrator
                 reaches towards the woman.  The crowd
                 reachs towards the Woman.  Their fingers
                 almost touch.  They hold the position.)

      If you were here
          I'd give you a hug and a smile and
                 I'd hold on tight.
But you are not here - so - the gift I'll give
     in your memory is
     to love those who are here with me today.
          I'll give them a hug and a smile
               and I'll hold on tight.

Goodbye, Sister, Goodbye

                  (hold the tableau for a moment.)

* HYMN: "We Are Pilgrims" (The Servant Song)                       - VU 595

Gracious God - like a deer that longs for running streams, so our souls
yearn for the love that comes from you - the love that wells up in us like
streams of living water and brings life to us and to those around us.  Help
us to open our lives to you - to put down our roots in your word - and to
turn our hands both upward and outward that we may receive and give your
blessing... Lord hear our prayer...

God of holy love, You have poured out living water in the gift of Your son 
Jesus.  Keep us close to Him, and loyal to His leading, so that we may 
never thirst for righteousness, but live the eternal life he came to give
us... Lord, hear our prayer....

Almighty God, as Jesus welcomed an outcast woman and spoke with her without
judgement - drawing her closer to you, so help us to accept and deal with
the outcasts in our world today.  Grant, O God, that we may be a people who
in speaking truth do not condemn those of whom and to whom we speak.  Help
us to bring one another and all who thirst to the living water you desire
to give them....  Lord, hear our prayer...

Within this house of prayer, loving God, where we are refreshed by your
living  water, we turn our prayers towards the hunger and thirst of the
wider world.  Father - hear our prayers for those who suffer want and
deprivation of body or of soul...  Lord, hear our prayer....

Compassionate Lord, there are many other concerns upon our hearts at this
time - concerns for those who are close to us - and for those who are far
off.   We remember them in our hearts at this time - and we name some of
them with the words of our lips.   O God we pray for.... BIDDING PRAYER   
......Lord, hear our prayer...

All these things we ask of you in the name of Jesus, your Son, and our Lord
and our brother.  Amen

* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:  As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of

   We thank you God for accepting us - for showering your love upon us. 
   We ask you to receive our humble gifts in return - and to use them
   and us to bring your gospel to all around us - and indeed to every
   corner of the earth.   Amen.

* SHARING THE PEACE: We greet those around us with a sign of peace
   (handshakes or hugs) and words like "The peace of the Lord be with
   you".  This ancient tradition is an appropriate response to the peace
   that God gives to those who hear and do his word.

* COMMUNION HYMN: All Who Hunger                                   - VU 460

L  The peace of the Lord be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  Lift up your hearts.
P  We lift them up to the Lord.
L  Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
P  It is right to give God thanks and praise.

L  It is indeed right that we should praise you, gracious God, for you
   created all things.  You formed us in your own image, male and female
   you created us.  When we turned away from you in sin, you did not cease
   to care for us, but opened a path of salvation for all people.  You
   made a covenant with Israel, and through you servants Abraham and Sarah
   gave the promise of a blessing to all nations.  Through Moses you led
   your people from bondage into freedom; through the prophets you renewed
   your promise of salvation.   In the fullness of time you sent your Son
   Jesus Christ to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us,
   to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all.  In all things he
   fulfilled your gracious will - and so granted unto us a spring of
   living water that wells up unto eternal life.

L  There with all the saints and the company of heaven we praise you,
P  Holy, holy, holy, Lord, 
   God of power and might,
   Heaven and earth are full of your glory,
   Hosanna in the highest.
   Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,
   Hosanna in the highest.

   Blessed indeed, O Lord, is the one who came in your name to deliver us
   from death and to pour out upon us the water that wells up to eternal
   life.  Indeed we remember with thanksgiving the sacrifice that he made
   on our behalf, recalling how on the night he was betrayed, he took
   bread and when he had given thanks to you (as we now thank you O God
   for our daily bread), he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying
   "Take , eat, this is my body, given for you"....  We recall too, how
   when the supper was over, Jesus took the cup, the cup of blessing, and
   after giving thanks to you - as we thank you Lord for the cup you give
   us to drink, he gave it to his disciples saying "Drink this, all of
   you; this is my blood, the blood of the new covenant, poured out for
   you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins......."  As often as you
   do this - do it in remembrance of me".

L  Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith:
P  Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

   Loving God, we pray you to send your Holy Spirit upon us and upon this
   bread and wine that they may be for us the body and blood of our Lord
   Jesus Christ and that being built up by this precious sacrament of his
   grace we may receive with him the gift of eternal life in your blessed
   kingdom.  Amen.

THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ELEMENTS  (Please take the plate or cups from the
person who hands them to you, then serve that person, saying words like
"The body of Christ broken for you" or "the blood of Christ poured out for
you" and then hand the plate to the person on the other side of you - who
will then serve you)

L  Let us Pray.... Gracious God; we thank you for the bread that satisfies
   all hunger and for the cup that satisfies all thirst.
P  Father, we praise you for your love which never ends
   and for your grace that knows no limits.
L  We thank you, O God, for granting to us victory over sin and death
   through Christ Jesus our Lord, and we proclaim to you and to one
   another our faith...

CONFESSION OF FAITH  (The New Creed, VU 918)
P  We are not alone, we live in God's world.
   We believe in God: who has created and is creating,
       who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, 
       to reconcile and make new, 
       who works in us and others by the Spirit. 
   We trust in God.
       We are called to be the Church,
       to celebrate God's presence, 
       to live with respect in creation,
       to love and serve others, 
       to seek justice and resist evil, 
       to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,  our Judge and our Hope.
      In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.   
   We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.

* DEPARTING HYMN:  "I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say"                  VU 626

* COMMISSIONING (Unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth
   into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of
Go in peace, love and care for one another in Christ's name,
and may God's love, and God's grace, and God's truth, 
   be poured out endlessly upon you,
may they well up in you like a stream 
   and flow forth from you like a river
bringing abundant praise and glory to his everlasting name,
   both now and forevermore.  Amen

* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                              - VU 964

copyright - Charlene Fairchild and Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 1994, 2002, 2005
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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