by The Rev. Alissabeth Newton, Vicar, St. Columba’s Abbey Church, Kent, Washington
“Give me water to drink”
-Jesus, to the Samaritan woman.
“Nothing bad ever happens to you,” my close friend said one day to me. He was complaining, letting me know that the cost of never “needing” him was a real one, in our relationship. You see, as a priest, mother of two small children, know-it-all wife, and amateur theologian I like to be the person who helps others out, the one with the answers and the solutions. I like to wow them with my strengths, as opposed to exposing my many (many!) vulnerabilities to the world. To admit that I am not having a fantastic time feels too exposed.
But this isn’t how relationships work, is it? Real connections with other people, or between groups of people, needs to include honesty about what I need from you, and what you need, from me. This can be hard, especially for those of us who are raised up in cultures where vulnerability is equated to weakness, where it is taboo to admit to an outsider that they have something you need.
Jesus is not afraid of taboo when he sits, tired and thirsty, by Jacob’s well and asks the Samaritan woman for a drink. As a Jewish man he should never have spoken to the Samaritan woman, and he certainly should not have asked her to draw water for him. But he was tired, thirsty, and his needs opened the door for a transformative relationship between them. And so an exchange that begins with an inappropriate request for water ends with a woman forever changed and Jesus identified as “truly the Savoir of the world.”
I wonder, as we pray for unity among Christian people this week, what it would be like to begin with asking each other for the help we need. There are lots of reasons not to. There are lots of reasons to stick each of us to our own traditions, to close ranks along denominational, political, or national lines and to admit no weakness. But that is not the example given us from Jesus Christ. Bad things happen to all of us, and yet we can meet together at the well of our common faith, admit that we are tired and thirsty, and share Living Water with each other and the world.
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Theme for the Day: DENUNCIATION
2 Kings 17:24-34 Samaria conquered by Assyria
Psalms 139:1-12 “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me”
Romans 7:1-4 “You have died to the law through the body of Christ”
John 4:16-19 “I have no husband”
- What are the sinful structures that we can identify in our own communities?
- What is the place and the role of women in our churches?
- What can our churches do to prevent violence and to overcome violence directed against women and girls?
School Cycle of Prayer:
Prayer [Attributed to Gregory of Nazianzus]:
O you who are beyond all things,
how could we call you by any other name?
What song could be sung for you?
No word can express you.
What Spirit can perceive you?
No intelligence can comprehend you.
You alone are inexpressible;
all that is said has come from you.
You alone are unknowable;
all that is thought has come from you.
All creatures proclaim you, those who speak and those who are dumb.
Every one desires you, everyone sighs and aspires after you.
All that exists prays to you,
and every being that can contemplate your universe raises to you a silent hymn.
Have pity on us, you who are beyond all things.
How could we call you by any other name?