When Jesus saw her at the well, what happened was…
Whether I’m reading about the communicator (Jesus) or about the recipient (the Samaritan woman), I can learn some tradition-breaking lessons from the story of the woman at the well.
You remember the story as recorded in John’s gospel, the 4th chapter, right?
After walking a long way, Jesus was tired. He sat down by a well outside of the Samaritan village of Sychar, and rested. He sent his disciples into town to get some food, and waited.
Along came the woman…a Samaritan woman…a Samaritan woman with a bad reputation…to get some water. Jesus surprised her by making a simple request of her. He showed her that she mattered. That she had value. That she was human.
Now, remember, women were pretty much second class “citizens” in patriarchal Palestine. Women weren’t the better half—but the lower half—of the human binary.
Samaritans were clearly second class in the Jews’ Promised Land. Half-Jew, traitorous, sell-outs, Samaritans were.
This serial floozie went to get water in the middle of the day when the other wives wouldn’t be there. She probably didn’t want to give them the pleasure of looking down their judgmental noses at her and her “wicked" ways.
Those facts make Jesus’ interaction with her so unusual. Jesus gave this woman attention. The respect every person deserves, but doesn’t get.
Sometimes, I don’t give that kind of attentive respect to some people. Aw…who am I kidding? OFTEN, I don’t give that kind of attentive respect to others.
During 2020, I’ve been confronted with my own prejudices. It started last year with the wake-up call from the #MeToo movement. I saw how my gender can diminish and even invalidate the abuse the other gender experiences at the hands of their husbands, their bosses, and their pastors.
Then there were those old folks. We were forced to close down the American life because of them. They were more vulnerable to a coronavirus. My good life wasn’t so good any more…because of them…and because of vulnerable black and brown folks, too.
The killing (can I say “the murder”?) of a black brother in south Minneapolis under a cop’s knee just exposed yet another lack of my attentiveness to the inequities and injustices that people of color live with 24/7.
My life-long disrespect of some people was rearing its ugly head…again.
But, Jesus cared about a Samaritan divorcee. He offered the Living Water to a woman dying of thirst and to all her acquaintances.
Do I care like that? Do I even want to?
I can…with God’s help.
And, so can you. We can, together.