Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
Joy in Christ, a way of life

A third Lenten message from Bishop Lane

To watch video, click HERE


John 4:5-42


I want to begin this video by apologizing for the last one. I conflated the stories of Nicodemus and Zaccheus, something I think I’ve done before, and a risk that comes of speaking without notes. I’ll try to keep track of things a bit better this week.


I’m speaking to you from the House of Bishops meeting at Camp McDowell, about an hour outside of Birmingham. Our theme is Discipleship in These Days, and one of the questions we’re wrestling with is how we move toward God’s dream of a reconciled world when all anyone wants to talk about is difference. We live in a time when many of us are afraid of people who are different. How do we recognize such people as brothers and sisters made in the image of God and joined by a promise of eternal life?


In our Gospel for Sunday, Jesus meets a woman at the well. The well in the Bible is a place of courtship. But Jesus and the woman are married to different traditions: Jesus is a Jew and the woman is a Samaritan. They are cousins in the faith, but have held one another in disdain for centuries.


Jesus reaches across the divide, breaking many taboos about unmarried men and women speaking without chaperones, first by naming their shared history, and then by promising a common future, a future in which they will worship in spirit and truth joined together in their relationship with the one God. In this story, for the only time in the Gospel of John, Jesus identifies himself as the messiah.


Yesterday, the bishops toured the Legacy Museum and the Peace and Justice Memorial, both in Montgomery, which describe in unblinking and often horrific terms, the experience of African peoples in America: slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, and continued denial of civil and economic rights. This history, a history we’ve known together, needs to be named as a first step in claiming the promise of our deeper unity. The faith we hold makes it possible for us to hope that, by God’s grace, we will see ourselves as beloved children of one God and members of the same family. Our unity is more powerful than our difference. That is the promise Jesus offers us this week and one for us to think about deeply.


God bless you.