Bishop Election Devotional for May 12, 2019


John 4:1-45 – Jesus and the Woman of Samaria


By Rev. Kay Ressel (Pine Ridge Retreat Center)

In Lakota culture, water is referred to as the first medicine. Water is something that all of creation needs to survive and thrive. No one would argue about the importance of water for our physical well-being. But in this text, getting a drink of water is only part of the story!

When Jesus asks the Samaritan woman to give him a drink, she is thinking about the physical need for water and wonders aloud how it is that Jesus, a Jew, asks her, a woman of Samaria, for a drink from the well of Jacob.  Jesus response moves the conversation away from the physical need for water to images of living water. “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.”

Living water is that it is always in motion! Living water flows, it is an action, a two-part movement. Without in-flowing and out-flowing, water becomes stagnant and is no longer life-giving.

The image of living water in this text is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, the Christ, brings the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, to the Samaritan woman.  The Spirit enlivens her faith, her eyes are opened, and she recognizes Jesus as the Messiah. But the story does not end with her recognition, she becomes the vessel that carries living water to the people in her community. The living water she was given became a spring of living water gushing up!

The work of the Holy Spirit is a faith that is active and moving. Too often our faith becomes stagnant and can no longer support life. Drink of the living water that is offered, be renewed and filled-up and then let the life-giving Spirit transform you. In this time of discernment, as a faith community, we can trust the Holy Spirit to enliven our faith, guide us and give us courage to respond in boldness as we look to the future.


Good and gracious God, send your Spirit to enliven our faith and move us to boldly look for a leader that will guide your Church to receive your living water, to drink deeply, to be filled-up and transformed into your new creation. Amen.


ELW 817 You Have Come Down to the Lakeshore
ELW 777 Come to Me, All Pilgrims Thirsty
ELW 729 The Church of Christ in Every Age
ELW 455 Crashing Waters at Creation
Come to the Well sung by Casting Crowns



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