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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

February 4, 2018

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman - Epiphany 5

Jesus and the Woman of Samaria – Epiphany 5

February 4, 2018

John 4:1-29, 39-42

 

Beginning last October, the #metoo hashtag has been shared countless times across the world.  With increased reporting of sexual harassment and assault, many people, especially women, have been able to share the fact that they have also suffered from abusive situations.  It’s been truly disturbing to find out how widespread the harm has been.  It’s also been encouraging for many women and men to find out they are not alone . . . and that people care about them.

 

I’ll be sharing my annual presentation on sexuality with 7th and 8th graders next weekend.  It covers a wide range of topics.  But it begins with an important idea.  When it comes to how we deal with God, people and things the correct order is:

 

TRUST – GOD

LOVE – PEOPLE

USE – THINGS

 

Problems happen when the order is not followed.  When it comes to sex and sexuality, the major problem happens when USE – PEOPLE is the focus of relationships.

 

Today in our Bible reading we meet a woman who has been used.  To some extent, it was part of her culture.  Women were often regarded as property.  They were to be used by men. 

 

It would start with fathers.  Fathers, for the most part, decided if their daughters would marry and who they would marry.  Marriages were often negotiated and women seldom had a say in who their husbands would be.

 

Once married, women became property of their husbands.  The woman in the story today had either been widowed or had been divorced by her first husband.  If there was a divorce, it’s highly likely it was because she was unable to have a child.  This woman had then married a second time, then a third, fourth and fifth time.  She could have been widow five times, but odds are that she would have been divorced at least a couple of times by the men who had married her.  And only men could decide on divorces. The woman in today’s lesson had to have felt used . . . and discarded. And in the lesson today it seems she was in a relationship with a man who had not married her.  Again she was being used.

 

She had come to the well to get water at noon.  Most women would draw water for the day early in the morning.  It was a time when women would socialize a bit. They’d share personal stories and perhaps a little gossip.  The woman in today’s story seems to have been avoiding that gathering.  Some speculate it was because she was something of an outcast because of her history.  I think she may have avoided hearing about supportive husbands and children and “normal” lives.

 

She most likely didn’t expect to meet a man.  It was women’s work to draw water and to make sure it was available for men.  And to make this even more startling, this was a Jewish man in Samaritan territory. Most Jewish people went out of their way to avoid being in Samaria.

 

Jesus asked her for a drink.  She wondered why he, a Jew, was asking her for a drink, a woman of Samaria.  Men were not supposed to speak to women, especially those unrelated to them, in public.  And Jews were not supposed to speak to Samaritans and it was even more scandalous for share a drinking glass.  

 

The conversation gets a little strange.  Jesus starts talking about his ability to offer living water.  The Aramaic word used could also mean “fresh” water, which would have been spring water.  Spring water was preferable to well water. But then Jesus says his living water would quench thirst forever.  That sounded great to the woman. She’d never have to come back to the well again.

 

When Jesus gets personal, letting the woman know he knows about her marital, and rejection, history, the woman tries to change the topic to worship traditions.  Jesus lets her know that worship isn’t about places, it’s about relationships. It’s about connecting with God’s spirt and God’s truth.  She says she believes in the promised Messiah.  Jesus says he IS the promised Messiah.

 

She believed it. She ran to tell the people of the village, the people she normally was hiding from.  Jesus’ disciples were scandalized by their master’s behavior, speaking to Samaritans, especially women.  Jesus was turning the world upside down.  With Jesus there are no barriers.

 

The woman met Jesus at the well and believed he was the Messiah, the savior. Do you think she heard what happened to him later, how he was arrest, tortured and killed . . . and how he rose again?

 

#metoocould be shared by Jesus.  When he was tortured, he would first have been stripped naked and humiliated.  When he was crucified, there would have been no loincloth.  He would have been displayed naked for all to see.  This was not just a horrible death, it was sexual humiliation.

 

But Jesus came back.  He came back to let us know he understands our pain and humiliation.  He came back to assure us of love and forgiveness and life beyond the struggles of this life.  His life, death and resurrection were for that Samaritan woman and for all people.  Through him we have freedom from the past, hope for the future and new life today.  We know we are loved.

 

With Jesus #metoo become #youtooloved

 

AMEN