Watching Water


CREATE A SACRED TIME AND SPACE
Leave all screens turned off and outside of the gathering space/room.
Set a single candle in the center of your space or on a child’s nightstand or headboard.

As you light the candle, you might sing or say, [Christ] is my Song1

[Christ] is my song, [Christ] is my praise: all my hope comes from God.
[Christ] is my song, [Christ] is my praise: God, the well-spring of life.

TAKE A MOMENT
This is a time to become fully present with one another and with God.
Invite everyone to take a deep breath in and exhale fully.
Repeat this deep breathing for about 20 seconds, everyone at their own pace.

LET GO & RECEIVE
Excitement over past or future events - or, worries, pain and/or guilt - can keep us from immersing in God’s loving Presence, right here and now.

You might invite participants to Let Go as follows:

“In one or two words, how have you quarrelled with or tested God, today?

Allow time for a response from each individual.

Breathe in: know that you are, right now, being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Breathe out: release into grace any guilt, shame or pain quarreling and testing has 
caused.”

Pause

You might invite participants to Receive Grace as follows:

“How have you followed the Spirit’s lead, today?

Allow time for a response from each individual.

Breathe in: notice how the Spirit is as close to you as your breath.
Breathe out: thank God for filling you with what you need for each day.”

Pause


READING SUMMARY
Before moving on, take two more deep breaths.

Then share a summary of this evening’s text. Using your own words is strongly encouraged. If that feels uncomfortable or overwhelming, or if you would like a young person to lead this portion, here are some thoughts on this story:


Jesus is tired from his travels and asks a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. She 
wonders how he can ask her: their people weren’t supposed to talk to each other, let alone share resources (they don’t see eye-to-eye on things like God’s Law and how to worship).
Then, Jesus offers the woman an odd sort of gift: “living water”.
“Living water” is a weird idea: for the woman, for the people from her town, and for all Jesus’ disciples, then and now.
What happens in the story can help us understand what Jesus means by “living water”:
First, Jesus sees the woman for who she really is and wants to get to know her and her people better.
The experience of being so deeply understood and loved is so amazing that the woman has to share this feeling with her neighbors and friends.
As a result, lots of people in her town start to see themselves and others in a whole new way as they welcome Jesus and his close friends into their community.
For a long time, Jesus’ followers have understood the “living water” Jesus shares in this story to be about an endless life that starts after we die. And there’s something hopeful and promising in that idea.
But the story itself seems to point toward a new life that starts right here and now. When we, right now and always, realize we are deeply known and loved and when we let our eyes be opened to seeing ourselves and others in new ways, we enter into a life that’s bigger than the one we currently know. Jesus’ offer of “living water” is an offer to live in a whole new way, in a way that’s bigger than “just us”. And that’s a life that cannot die.


SHARING THE READING
Readings can be shared around the circle by verse, or a different reader can lead each night.

A reading from John 4:5-262
4:5 [Jesus] stopped at Sychar, a town in Samaria, near the tract of land Jacob had given to his son Joseph,
4:6 and Jacob's Well was there. Jesus, weary from the journey, came and sat by the well. It was around noon.
4:7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."
4:8 The disciples had gone off to the town to buy provisions.
4:9 The Samaritan woman replied, “You’re a Jew. How can you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?” - since Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans.
4:10 Jesus answered, "If only you recognized God’s gift, and who it is that is asking you for a drink, you would have asked him for a drink instead, and he would have given you living water.”
4:11 “If you please,” she challenged Jesus, “you don’t have a bucket and this well is deep. Where do you expect to get this ‘living water’?
4:12 Surely you don’t pretend to be greater than our ancestors Leah and Rachel and Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it with their descendants and flocks?”
4:13 Jesus replied, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again.
4:14 But those who drink the water I give them will never be thirsty; no, the water I give will become fountains within them, springing up to provide eternal life."
4:15 The woman said to Jesus, "Give me this water, so that I won’t grow thirsty and have to keep coming all the way here to draw water."
4:16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and then come back here."
4:17 "I don’t have a husband,” replied the woman. "You’re right - you don’t have a husband!” Jesus exclaimed.
4:18 “The fact is, you’ve had five, and the man you’re living with now is not your husband. So what you’ve said is quite true.”
4:19 "I can see you’re a prophet,” answered the woman.
4:20 “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you people claim that Jerusalem is the place where God ought to be worshiped."
4:21 Jesus told her, "Believe me, the hour is coming when you’ll worship Abba God neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
4:22 You people worship what you don’t understand - after all, salvation is from the Jewish people.
4:23 Yet the hour is coming - and is already here - when real worshipers will worship Abba God in Spirit and truth. Indeed, it is just such worshipers whom Abba God seeks.
4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth."
4:25 The woman said to Jesus, "I know that the Messiah - the Anointed One - is coming and will tell us everything."
4:26 Jesus replied, "I who speak to you am the Messiah."

DISCUSS
At the close of the reading you might begin with basic questions, such as:
Did this reading have any words or ideas that anyone doesn’t understand?
Let’s explore what those might mean, together.

If you are ready for further discussion, you might consider these questions:
*What is living water?
*What does the “life” living water gives us look like, sound like, feel like, and/or mean?



CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE
From your devotional basket, please take the following items:
~Notebook or binder for everyone
~Drawing or coloring utensil(s) for everyone
~Pitcher or large, pourable vessel filled with water
~Large bowl sufficient to hold at least most of the water in the pitcher

Be sure notebooks/binders and utensils are handy but not a distraction.
Set the bowl and pitcher beside one another in the center of your circle/gathering space.
The Leader and a Helper should be next to the pitcher and bowl.
You might invite the group into prayer with these or similar prompts:

I invite everyone to find a comfortable posture appropriate to prayer and encourage everyone to close their eyes.

Allow a few beats for the movement to settle down.

Let’s all take a few deep breaths to settle our minds:
~let go of the discussion questions and conversation;
~let go of the Bible story;
~let yourself rest for a moment in the love of your family and the presence of
God.

After a few deep breaths, share the following:

Christ sees us for who God made us to be; who we really are.
Christ sees our True Self.
Tonight we focus on seeing and being seen.

As you (or a helper) slowly pour water from the pitcher into the bowl, share the following:

Watch the water, moving from the pitcher to the bowl.
Focus on the water, poured out from one to the other.
Notice the water, flowing; emptying and filling.

Pause as you (or a helper) continue pouring, very slowly.
When about half of the water is in the bowl, continue pouring, sharing the following:

Watch the water, waving and swirling in the bowl.
Focus on the water, roiling and bumping in the bowl.
Notice the water, sloshing back and forth in the bowl.

Continue pouring until all the water is in the bowl.
Allow the focus to be on the water in the bowl.
Then:

Watch the water, smoothing and settling in the bowl.
Focus on the water, calming and coalescing in the bowl.
Notice the water, soothing and stilling.

Pause

For the next few minutes, simply notice the water.
Let yourself see the water for all that it is.
Avoid seeing what is not in, with or around the water.

Pause

As we continue in silence, you may keep your eyes open to focus on the water.
Or, you may close your eyes to focus within yourself, noticing the movement of the 
Spirit.
Either way, be aware that God is noticing you and seeing you for exactly who you are.
And know that God is looking at you with love.

Continue in silence for three or four minutes.
At the end of your silent time, invite attention back to the room with words like these:

I invite you to return your awareness to this place.
You might wiggle your toes and fingers or gently roll your shoulders or your head.
Slowly bring your body and mind back to here and now, and rest for a moment.

Resting is important: the transition from silence to immediate action or thought can be very jarring. Let the movement from rest to engagement be gentle.

PERSONAL REFLECTION
After a few beats, while people are still transitioning, introduce the reflection questions, as follows:

As we bring our awareness back to here and now, let’s consider how God was with us: 
Reflect on a thought or feeling that seemed powerful or meaningful to you.
Where or in what way did you experience God in this time?

After a moment or two of resting, encourage people to write, draw or doodle about their experience.
You might offer the following journal prompts:
*Create a word cloud or collage describing what you tasted in/with/around the water.
*Draw a picture of how God was with you, today.
*Create a poem about how God was present with you in the water.
*Or a simple reflective journal that includes any significant thoughts, ideas or emotions 
that emerged during this practice.

Allow about 3-5 minutes; gauge the activity-level of participants to determine when they are “done”.
Invite people to share their reflections with the group/family, only as they are comfortable. Not everyone will have something to share or feel comfortable sharing their experience. Let this be okay: not everyone needs to share.

Listen carefully to one another.
Acknowledge each sharing with words of affirmation.
Discussion can and should be about curiosity, clarity and/or affirmation.
This is not a time for correction or psycho-analyzing experiences.

BEDTIME SONG
As the following song is sung or said, the Leader should gather all materials utilized during the practice. Stow them in the basket for easy removal and future use.

As adults prepare to leave the room, you might sing or say, [Christ] is my Song1

[Christ] is my song, [Christ] is my praise: all my hope comes from God.
[Christ] is my song, [Christ] is my praise: God, the well-spring of life.


FINAL BLESSING
As they blow out the candle, children can offer the following blessing/prayer with their adults:
“I love you and I know you love me; let’s always be gentle with each other.”

Adult(s) can share the following blessing/prayer with the child[ren] as they turn out the lights:
“I love you and I know you love me; let’s always be gentle with each other.”





  1. Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Augsburg Fortress; 2006: #751.
  2.  From The Inclusive Bible (Rowman & Littlefield; 2007). Used with permission from The Quixote Center.

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