Third Sunday in Lent (March 27, 2011)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Ex. 17:1-7; Ps. 95; Rom. 5:1-11; John 4:5-42

This week Cindy traveled to northern Iraq with a MCC communications team to document projects that MCC partners are implementing near Erbil and Suliemaniyah.

Security forces hold a demonstrator at Amman's Interior Circle (Reuters)

About a mile from our house in Amman, young adults have set up at tent city at the Interior Circle, where they vow to stay until Jordan’s prime minister resigns, corrupt official are brought to trial, and parliamentary reforms are made. Events turned ugly this weekend when pro-government supporters attacked the youth with sticks and stones. Observing the Interior Circle from a distance on Saturday morning, it appears that security forces have been successful in their goal of dismantling the tent city by using water cannons. In another part of the city, a large crowd gathered to express support for King Abdullah.

Demonstrators prepare to pray at the Interior Circle (Amman News)

Police use water cannons to disperse the crowd (Reuters photo by Majed Jaber)

Just across Jordan’s northern border, some 20 protesters were killed Friday in the southern Syrian city of Deraa.  Demonstrations also took place in many other cities across Syria.

According to one former high-ranking Jordanian official, protesters across the region are united by the themes of government corruption, nepotism and acquiescence to foreign powers. He describe the moment as the new “Arab Revolt.”

Israel has increased air strikes on Gaza this week after Palestinian militants fired rockets into southern Israel and a bus was bombed in Jerusalem. A British woman who worked for Wycliffe Bible Translators was killed in the bombing. No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The Common Lectionary readings this week are about dissatisfaction.

In the Old Testament reading, when the Israelites run out of water at Meribah, they question whether God is with them and complain to Moses: “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” (Ex. 17:3)  In spite of the people’s ingratitude, God provides them with water from a rock.

In a moving appeal to future generations, the psalmist reflects God’s perspective on this story from Exodus: “Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah . . . when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.” (Ps. 95:8-9)  Because of their ingratitude, the people were not allowed to enter God’s rest – God’s land of promise. (v. 11)

The Epistle reading offers assurance that God is eager to satisfy our deepest needs.  God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 5:5)  Indeed, God proves the extent of his love for us “in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” (v.8)

In the Gospel reading, Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at a well.  He asks her for a drink or water.  In the course of their conversation, Jesus tells the woman: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

Dissatisfaction offers us two choices: to complain and seek solace in things that cannot satisfy, or to trust God to provide all the resources that are necessary for life.

Protesters across the region are rightly dissatisfied with the status quo. We pray that they will remain peaceful in their efforts, remembering that God is always on the side of justice and that, in due time, injustice will no longer stand.

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