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Plymouth United Church of Christ
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Eau Claire, WI 54703
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“I See You, Period. I Know You, Period. I Love You, Period.”
Sermon, Year A, Lent 3, March 23, 2014
Plymouth United Church of Christ, Eau Claire, WI
© Rev. David J. Huber
Focus Scripture: John 4:5-42

Note: The above link for John 4:5-42 will take you to the Biblical text from the New Revised Standard Version. We did not read the scripture this Sunday, though. We had two people offer a dramatization, the script for which is available on Pastor David‘s blog, From the Pastor's Pen.

My moment at the well, my moment to encounter the Living Water of Jesus Christ, my moment to feel in some way as this Samaritan woman felt was in 1980. This moment being seen, being known, of being loved. I remember very clearly. It was the summer of 1980. I was 14 years old. It was at Carleton College. Not as a prodigy attending college at 14, but it was the National Youth Event of the United Church of Christ. It was the first one that they had in a long time. I had gone there with about 1000-1200 other youth from around the denomination. I was there with the Wisconsin delegation. And I encountered the living Water there. Encountered Jesus. I don’t remember the names of all the Jesuses I encountered, but I remember some: Bill, Gary, Julie, Amy, Mike, Carrie. They were the people who were around me.

I had gone there purely just because it sounded fun. To go hang out with a whole bunch of youth for a week and have a good time. I thought, like this woman who went to the well everyday to do her thing and go home with nothing different nothing changed, that I would go there, hang out, come home, and still be me. No different.

But I was different. It was a different experience. Jesus was there. “Now with more Jesus!” in a sense. A very different experience. And I was changed in the time that I was there.

I heard a story a few days ago, I don’t know if it’s true or not, and it doesn’t matter. It was a story of a man who asked a woman, “If you could have one book to read for the rest of your life, what would you choose?” She said, “I would choose the Bible.” The man responded, “There are so many books out there that you could read. Why would you choose the Bible to read?” She replied, “Yes, there are many books that I could read, but the Bible is the only book that reads me.”

That is part of the power of scripture. We can find ourselves in it. Scripture has a way of working on our hearts. Of reading us as well, when we read it. If we let it out of that box of only having one meaning, that is. Or saying, “This is what this story means, and nothing else.” To ask, “Who am I in this story? Where am I in this passage? What is my relationship to God? What is God’s relationship to me? Where can I find meaning in this story?”

There is meaning to be had in this story of the woman at the well. There is, first, her story. A story which we ought not diminish in any way. But we can also enter into that story, though her situation is very different than ours. I don’t know anyone here who has to walk into town, or walk anywhere, to draw water from a well. We have water that comes into our homes. We don’t live in a dessert. In fact, many of us are living in communities that have asked us to run water continuously in our homes to save our pipes because it’s been too cold. I don’t think the people in this story would understand that situation at all. What it means to be that cold. What it means to run water constantly down the drain when water is so precious to them.

So though we are in different time than her, we probably all have stories of encountering Jesus. Encountering the Divine in one way or another. All have a story to tell of an experience of being seen. Of being known. Of being loved. Being accepted.

Jesus sees this woman, and he says, “You have had many husbands. But you are more than that. You are not just ‘the woman who has had many husbands’. I know that about you, but I know much more about you. I see you. I know you. I love you.” You aren’t just the person with an addiction. You aren’t just the guy who sent time in prison. You aren’t just the homeless person. You aren’t just the rich person, or just the poor person, or just the unemployed person. You are more than that. I see you. I know you. I love you.

As I was working on this sermon, I was playing around with my speech to text program. So I was speaking the sermon. To get punctuation in this program, one has to actually say the punctuation. So I found myself saying repeatedly, “I see you period I know you period I love you period”.

I love the sound of that!

Those periods at the ends of those sentences make them unconditional statements. The period says this is it. This is the end. I see you, period! I know, period! I love you, period!


My experience at the National Youth Event was an unconditional acceptance from the adults I was with and the youth I was with. They saw, they knew, they loved. I didn’t have to pretend to be someone else like we so often have to do in school or in our workplaces, or even in the church. It was an open, accepting environment! You like science, math, reading science fiction? You like to read? That’s all kind of weird. You like Star Wars? That had just come out a few years before. That’s great! You’re a little socially awkward? That’s all right! Be part of our group anyway. We accept you. We’ll bring you in to be part of our group. Here you are seen. Period. Here you are known. Period. Here you are loved. Period.

And it changed my life. It really did. It was a profound experience of what the church should be like. And of what Jesus’ grace is really like. It changed my life, as I imagine it changed the life of the woman at the well. We don’t know what she went on to do, or what the rest of her life was like. But I would hope that in that moment of being unconditionally accepted as she was lifted her spirit for the rest of her life. And that’s what the church ought to be. As people are invited in, as people come in to the church, that’s what they ought to experience: Here you will find grace. Here you will be fed. Here you will never be thirsty, you will always have access to the Living Water. You will be given Living Water like the woman who came to the well.

A woman whose name we don’t know, who was an outsider. A Samaritan. A woman.

I see you. Period. I know you. Period. I love you. Period.


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Plymouth United Church of Christ
2010 Moholt Drive
Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 54703

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