Lent III

Mormon Lectionary Project

Third Sunday in Lent

Exodus 17:1-7Romans 5:1-11John 4:5-42Psalm 95

Collect: Heavenly Father, we have little power in ourselves to help ourselves, so keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

There is a much arid earth between Egypt and the Promised Land and thus the complaint to Moses sounds reasonable, given the circumstances:

The people quarrelled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst? (Exodus 17).

Here we are a few weeks into Lent and for many of us so many of those good intentions we had back in Egypt are broken. In the wilderness, we have failed. On Ash Wednesday we thought that this Lent would be the one, the one in which spiritual discipline would whisk us all the way to Easter on a cloud of religious glory. Not so, for in our wilderness of Sin, there seems to be no water, despite our hope that things would be different this time. God is right: “This people are wayward in their hearts; they do not know my ways” (Psalm 95). Yes, but that is the way of us, Lord. Have mercy and let the water flow anew.

It did and it does. The miracle in the wilderness  was repeated by Jesus among the Samaritans. The new Moses strikes a new rock: “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).

I am holding this view in my mind:

On the road to Emmaus, two everyman disciples meet Jesus but do not recognise him. I wouldn’t either, having never known him. Luke knows this and so invites us, via his gospel, into the great Christian mystery — it is in the breaking of bread that we know him. This is Christ resurrected, the communal meal and all that it stands for. Some people wonder whether this person or that person has seen the Christ in our time. I do not know how anyone who has truly read Luke 24 can ask that question. We see the Christ every week, or ought to.

And so I hold to that hope, that bread of life and living water. Good hell I know I don’t deserve it, what with Lent all shot to pieces (as it always will be).

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5). Thank Him for that. Easter is coming.


  1. Jason K. says:

    This is really great stuff, Ronan. I especially love your invocation of the Emmaus story, where we in our weakness meet the Christ, but don’t see him until we break bread. It’s also appropriate to bring in the reality that we’ve reached the stage of Lent where our resolutions begin to falter.

  2. Thank you for this Ronan! Really needed this devotional today.

  3. I am not LDS.
    Interested in intra-faith dialog though. not an expert.
    Don’t “low-church” Protestants–and–using history–therefore LDS–have real objections to Lenten observances? I thought that was a big deal. I am curious what you guys think about that!

    Curious non-practicing kultural katholic German-American more into Dionysus bc getting “culturally authentic”

  4. Harald,

    At some point one of the liturgically-minded among us will write a kind of apologia for this kind of thing in a Mormon setting. Until then, I think it might suffice to say that we seem to be coincidentally capturing the Zeitgeist — there seems to be some evidence that Christians are becoming increasingly attracted to the cadences of the High Church. A new group of Mormons dedicated to walking the old pilgrim routes is also evidence of this. I imagine Holy Envy is playing some role.

    For me, it’s also about the recognition that God’s work pre-dates 1830. Also, as creatures bound to time, which time we mark in all manner of secular ways, it would seem folly to completely discount the possibilities offered by holy time and the liturgical calendar.

  5. Harald, in case you weren’t aware, click on the link at the beginning of the post that says Mormon Lectionary Project to see the collected posts we’ve done so far this year following the liturgical calendar.

  6. I’m learning a tremendous amount from these posts. I appreciate the time and great thought that goes into them, and will be thinking today on “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5). Thank Him for that. Easter is coming.”

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