Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bishop’s Note: March 23, 2017 – the Samaritan Woman at the Well

Bishop Eric Menees

Last week’s gospel lesson from the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John presented us with the iconic meeting between the Samaritan Woman at the Well and Jesus. While one could teach for weeks on this scripture lesson, three things jumped out at me that I’d like to share.

First, Jesus arrives at Jacob’s well alone, having sent his disciples on ahead to the town of Sychar to get provisions; all the while knowing that the Samaritan woman would soon be meeting him, though little did she know what that meeting would mean for her. It is the desire of Jesus to meet each one of us, one on one, where we are, and he accepts us where we are – but he doesn’t want to leave us there. Jesus met the Samaritan woman and, speaking the truth in love, transformed her life. Jesus desires to do the same with us!

Second, like many of us, the Samaritan woman met Jesus with skepticism and doubt: “‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’” We are all well aware of the animosity between Jews and Samaritans, so amazed and probably thinking that she was being set up, the Samaritan woman kept Jesus at arm's length out of ignorance and fear. Too many of us do the same thing; we keep Jesus at arms length. Oh sure, we’ve heard of Jesus, we’ve sung hymns about Jesus, and when the chips were down we even prayed to Jesus for help, but from ignorance and fear we keep him at arm's length. And yet, to the woman at the well and to us, Jesus says, “‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’”

Third, Jesus is persistent. He doesn’t accept her cynicism and recognizes the true source of her estrangement – sin. “Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ 17 The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.’”  Note that Jesus’ response is not one of condemnation or judgment – he speaks the truth in love! I’m sure that these were not easy words to hear for her, but in them she hears that Jesus is more than a wandering Jew or even a visiting rabbi. “25 The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.’ 26 Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he.’”

In many ways, we are all the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus seeks us out and invites us into relationship. The question is: will we keep him at arm’s length or open our hearts and minds to him?
The Lord bless and keep you all!

Thirty-nine Articles of Religion
XIX. Of the Church
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same….

No comments: