by The Rev. Nindyo Sasongko, Graduate Assistant, Worship and Liturgy, School of Theology and Ministry, Seattle University
“Give me water to drink”
My family used to live in a neighborhood where traditional Javanese (an ethnic group in Indonesia) houses could be found. When I was young, I was wondering about two things: Why did all traditional houses have a well in the front yard? Why did the owner put a ceramic pitcher (kendi—read: kindee) filled with water in front of their house? Later I knew that these were parts of Javanese hospitality, a hospitality which has its roots from Javanese philosophy of life.
When the dry season comes, and many wellsprings do not produce water, neighbors may stop by their neighbor’s house and ask, “May I draw water from your well?” This question is not a superficial request. Many times such a question becomes a door to a long conversation between neighbors. So is with the ceramic pitcher. A thirsty traveler may stop by at any house and ask the owner, “May I drink from this kendi?” The hosts are pleased to give water from the kendi and ask if the traveler wants to come in and have conversation in their home.
Water is essential to human beings. Water is central in human life. For Javanese people, water is believed to be essence from which human beings have their being. If land is like flesh to human body, water is like its soul. Take a look on the map and find the island of Java, you will see that this island is surrounded by water. Who can claim ownership over water? None. This outlook creates an understanding that water is to be shared with others. Indeed, water connects people.
“Give me water to drink” breaks the silence between two strangers at that noon. Jesus is a stranger to the Samaritan woman. But this woman too, she is not only a stranger in Jesus’ eyes but also to her society and even to the Fourth evangelist since John does not remember her name. We know what comes next. This passage indeed is one of the longest conversations in the Fourth Gospel. “Give me water to drink” breaks barriers, taboos, and stereotypes not only between individuals but also between societies. At the well, the host’s life is enriched by the stranger.
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Theme for the Day: TESTIMONY
Numbers 20:1-11 The Israelites at Meribah
Psalm 119:10-20 “I will not forget your word”
Romans 15:2-7 “May God… grant you to live in harmony with one another”
John 4:7-15 “Give me to drink”
- How has your understanding and experience of God been enriched by the encounter with other Christians?
- What can Christian communities learn from indigenous wisdom and other religious traditions in your region?
School Cycle of Prayer:
We pray today for the Ezekiel: Ecstasy in the Face of Empire class taught by Erica Martin; Sharon Callahan, faculty; Lisa Gustaveson, staff; Jessica Wright, graduate assistant; Elizabeth Hunter and Gayle Johnson, students.
God of life, who cares for all creation, and calls us to justice and peace,
may our security not come from arms, but from respect.
May our force not be of violence, but of love.
May our wealth not be in money, but in sharing.
May our path not be of ambition, but of justice.
May our victory not be from vengeance, but in forgiveness.
May our unity not be in the quest of power, but in vulnerable witness to do your will.
Open and confident, may we defend the dignity of all creation, sharing, today and forever, the bread of solidarity, justice and peace.
This we ask in the name of Jesus, your holy Son, our brother, who, as victim of our violence, even from the heights of the cross, gave forgiveness to us all.