A special piece of artwork is the backdrop for discussion and study this Lenten season at Hayes Barton United Methodist Church in Raleigh.
A wall hanging that depicts the Biblical encounter between Jesus and a woman at a well will be the visual stepping-off point for a series of Wednesday evening sessions about the meaning of that meeting.
The wall hanging, entitled “Photini,” was commissioned for a Hayes Barton UMC women’s retreat and is the creation of Amy Love, a liturgical artist from Shreveport, La.
That retreat last month in Pinehurst focused on the story of the woman at the well. The church is continuing to examine the story further because it meshes so well with the congregation’s yearlong theme of “Streams of Living Water. ”
The story is found in the book of John and finds Jesus traveling with his disciples in Samaria. In the heat of the day he takes a seat by Jacob’s Well, and a woman arrives to draw her own water. Jesus asks her to pour him water, but she refuses, citing laws and customs surrounding interactions between Samaritan women and Jewish men.
Jesus told her that he could give her living water so that she would never be spiritually thirsty again. By living water, he meant eternal life.
Even though the pair had never met before, Jesus was able to describe details of her life, including an immoral relationship, and when they talked about faith, he told her he was the Messiah.
The woman left the well without her water and ran into town to tell others about who she had met.
In the story, the woman is forced to confront herself, she experiences the grace of God, and then she shares the news.
“The story of the woman at the well is so fitting for Lent because of the powerful message that it gives people to carry through the entire Lenten season,” said LuAnn Charlton, a pastor at Hayes Barton. “We are asked to walk in a 40-day period where we enter a desert of sorts, a time of letting go of things that take our focus off of God and then intentionally entering into soul-searching moments in the time that is freed up.”
Charlton said this particular Biblical story inspires believers to continue through what can be a difficult period of self-examination.
“The woman who has been baptized in living water reminds us that even in vulnerable moments in life, we are marked by the waters of baptism and our true identity will not be changed as we willingly take an honest look at our lives,” Charlton said. “Her message gives us a freedom to explore without fear.”
Crossroads Fellowship, with campuses in Raleigh and Wake Forest, will host Serve Week from March 7-15.
Serve Week is a church-wide initiative to reach out and do good things in the community. There are 30 service projects, ranging from preparing a community garden to packing Bibles to send to prisons to organizing and sorting thrift-store donations.
Small groups, families and individuals are all welcome to participate. Sign-up details and opportunities are available on the church website.
On March 11 and March 14, Crossroads will also host two sessions of seed packing.
The church is partnering with Global Aid Network to assemble packages with five types of vegetable seeds to be shipped to families overseas. Each package will produce about 100 pounds of produce, which is estimated to be enough to feed each family, and also provide extra food to use in bartering.
Last year, Crossroads packed 11,480 seed packages and hopes to provide even more this year.
Prayer and Action Day
Church Women United of Raleigh/Wake County will host its Prayer and Action Day at Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church on Saturday, March 7.
The event, held annually to support local migrant farm workers, will begin at 10 a.m. with fellowship and refreshments. Volunteers will then sort donated worker clothing, and there will be a speaker from the National Farmworker Ministry.
Anyone who is interested in taking part is welcome. For details, contact Susie Heath at 919-870-9623.
Carla Turchetti compiles Faith in Focus each week. Email her with details of upcoming events at firstname.lastname@example.org.