Ready for Spring
Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent
Preached on March 7, 2010 at Holy Spirit Parish/The Newman Center at the University of Kentucky, Lexington KY
Readings: Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42
I’m ready for spring break. I’m done with the dark and dreary. I’m fed up with the difficult and depressing. I want to forget this long winter of our many discontents. I want to pack my bags and head someplace where there’s plenty of delights and sunlight to spare.
But I can’t. I have to stay here and hold the fort. I have piles of paperwork to finish. I have couples that I’m scheduled to meet for marriage preparation. In these days, in my thirst for fairer climes, when I’m ready to grumble against God, I remember the place called Massah and Meribah. There, “in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses” (Ex. 17:3). They were ready to make a u-turn back to Egypt which, honestly, is an oasis, a resort compared to the desert of Sinai. The Israelites were so parched and pained that they began to ask, “Is the Lord in our midst or not?” (Ex. 17:7)
The answer came from the plentiful water that flowed from the rock. The people’s thirst was quenched. Their grumbling ceased. Their faith restored.
Was the Lord in their midst or not? In Egypt, when their hands and feet were freed from the shackles of slavery, they knew the answer to that question. At the Red Sea, when a highway was made through the waters, they knew the answer to that question. At Massah and Meribah, when water flowed from the rock, they knew the answer to that question. In the Promised Land, when they enjoyed the lavish milk and honey, they knew the answer to that question.
The problem is, time and again, they keep on forgetting. And sometimes, so do I. When issues and problems start to overwhelm me, when things don’t go the way I had hoped, when winter just wouldn’t end, I forget. And then the Lord sends three sundrenched days. I get a note of encouragement in the mail. I receive absolution after confessing my despair. That’s when the question from Exodus comes back to haunt me: “Is the Lord in our midst or not?” (Ex. 17:7)
I’m ready for spring break. I’m done with the dark and dreary. I’m fed up with the difficult and depressing. I want to forget this long winter of our many discontents. But this morning, when I looked out the window and saw the sun shining brightly, I decided to unpack my bags and stay put.
Is the Lord in our midst or not? (Ex. 17:7) You bet He is. And even if you and I can’t go on spring break, He will—soon enough—bring springtime to all of us.