WEEK OF PRAYER REFLECTION January 23, 2016

Private+Water+Well

DAY SIX: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR
CHRISTIAN UNITY

Reflection by Rev. Nindyo Sasongko (Elias Pohan Visiting Scholar, Jakarta Theological Seminary, Jakarta, Indonesia)

“Give me water to drink”
-Jesus, to the Samaritan woman (John 4)

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 came, and many wellsprings did not have water, neighbors might stop by their neighbor’s house and asked, “May I draw water from your well?” This question is not just 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 might stop at any house and asked the owner, “May I drink from this kendi?” and then they started conversation.

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.

Guest Reflections Week of Prayer 2016

WEEK OF PRAYER REFLECTION January 22, 2016

well

DAY FIVE: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR
CHRISTIAN UNITY

Reflection by Rev. Alissabeth Newton (Vicar, St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, Kent, Washington)

“Give me water to drink”
-Jesus, to the Samaritan woman (John 4)

“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.

Guest Reflections Week of Prayer 2016

WEEK OF PRAYER REFLECTION January 21, 2016

wooden_bridge_over_soc48da_river

DAY FOUR: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR
CHRISTIAN UNITY

Reflection by Rev. James Patten (retired Presbyterian pastor and member of the Board and Executive Committee of the Church Council of Greater Seattle)

A year or so ago, representatives from the Latter Day Saints, Christian, Unitarian, Muslim, and Jewish religions visited Rep. Dave Reichert. A few weeks later a similar group visited Rep. Susan DelBene. We urged them to promote a different U.S. strategy in the Middle East. We talked about how we, from very diverse religious and cultural backgrounds, had learned to cross those boundaries and become friends. We wanted to urge the U.S. to allocate at least part of their aid to Israel to foster conversations between Palestinian and Israeli youth. We offered to help by organizing an experience for those youth here in the Puget Sound area. We need to change the attitudes of the next generation to end the hatred and violence killing so many innocent lives.

We could advocate for this policy, with integrity, because we had modeled how crossing boundaries, hearing each other in respectful ways, and working together in Habitat for Humanity projects like Together We Build can make a huge difference in creating understanding and respect.

Our world is in desperate need of people of good faith to cross boundaries in order to promote the common good. This is true in the Middle East, but also true in this country when it comes to the racial divide we are painfully experiencing. It is tearing communities apart and creating fear and distrust. Those of us living the advantages of white privilege, especially, need to step across boundaries to see the world through the eyes of those who feel disenfranchised.

As Christians, we have Jesus as our model. It was not safe for him in Judea so he headed to Galilee. The Gospel of John said when he left he “had to go through Samaria.” (John 4:4) He did not literally have to go through Samaria to get to Galilee. He chose to go through Samaria. He crossed a big boundary separating Jews and Samaritans in doing so. He also crossed a sexual boundary by speaking to a woman in public. That action could have been misinterpreted. It initially was by his disciples who were incredulous that he was speaking to this woman in public. In taking that risk Jesus was able to offer “living water” to this Samaritan woman. He saw her as a child of God in need of respect.

When we pray for unity we acknowledge we have our work cut out for us in bridging boundaries between denominations in the Christian tradition. That, alone, is hard enough. The next step of working across racial boundaries to bring about a more just society is absolutely crucial. The next step of crossing boundaries between Christianity and other enduring religious traditions is just as crucial. I pray we may see Jesus as our role model in this critical work for our day.

Guest Reflections Week of Prayer 2016

WEEK OF PRAYER REFLECTION January 20, 2016

together

DAY THREE: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR
CHRISTIAN UNITY

Reflection by Michael Ramos (Executive Director, The Church Council of Greater Seattle)

To walk humbly with God means walking in solidarity with all who struggle for justice and peace. Walking in solidarity has implications not just for individual believers, but for the very nature and mission of the whole Christian community. The Church is called and empowered to share the suffering of all by advocacy and care for the poor, the needy and the marginalized. Such is implicit in our prayer for Christian unity this week.

Abuna Elias Chacour, Archbishop of the Melkite (Greek Catholic) Church of northern Israel, saw his family’s land taken away from them during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 1948. Clear about his identity as a Palestinian, Arab, Christian, Israeli, his ministry began with a modest church placement in Galilee. From his early days as a pastor living in his car, Archbishop Chacour has built from the ground up the Mar Elias School, serving 4,000 children from pre-school through high school. While the school is Christian and Muslim, Druze and Jewish; the common denominator is equality and respect. “Peace is the result of the quality of relations,” says Abuna, “between people of different religions and backgrounds.” “And acceptance of the other is the root of reconciliation.” Their approach is inclusive love. “We invite students in, not as guests, to share in the greatness that God has given to us.” The school is one of the highest in academic achievement in all of Israel. Moreover, the school has transformed the landscape of a small village in Galilee into a place of light shining in the darkness of what is for many a second-class citizenship status. Archbishop Chacour’s walking in solidarity with the children through the vision of addressing the simple need of a school has taught more than a generation that God’s shalom prevails in all manner of circumstance.

Abuna goes on to say that solidarity, as expressed by the Beatitudes, is straightening up and walking humbly. Rather than a passive resignation, walking humbly means living the Beatitudes forthrightly in this time and place. Finding those who are incarcerated, or ill, or out of legal status, or homelessness, or jobless and walking alongside them with a “firm perseverance” (Pope John Paul II), is the very definition of solidarity. Staying present and allowing the “other” to teach us leads us to the fruit of such a stance: transformation of hearts and ultimately of the city. The ecumenical church acts to serve God by taking the narrative of God’s kin-dom of justice and peace and giving it laser focus in its priorities. In listening well, we are reminded that it is the children who are at the center of God’s reign (Mark 10:30-37).

After the tragedy of the murders in the Connecticut elementary school several years ago, solidarity with our children takes on new urgency. What if the criteria for gun legislation were based on how children would be affected and not the risks of the consequences of upsetting the gun lobby? What if the children said, “For our sake, give us the best opportunity to learn without arming teachers or administrators or security officers?” What if we stood in solidarity with these children and built a society on the basis of these relationships?

Walking humbly in solidarity means taking risks, confident in God’s abundant grace to be with us. We are co-conspirators, breathing new life into relationships and seeing where the Spirit will lead.   The apostle of non-violence, Archbishop Chacour, teaches us that in walking together with those who are sometimes considered “other” while claiming who we are as equals, relationships are reconciled and the seeds of peace may flourish.

Guest Reflections Week of Prayer 2016

WEEK OF PRAYER REFLECTION January 19, 2016

DAY TWO: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR
CHRISTIAN UNITY

Reflection by Sister Joyce Cox, BVM (Former Director of Ecumenical/Interreligious Dialogue, Office of Mission, Archdiocese of Seattle)

Today we reflect on the biblical images of human friendship and love as models for God‘s love for every human being. Understanding ourselves as beloved friends of God has consequences for relationships within the community of Jesus. Within the Church, all barriers of exclusion are inconsistent within a community in which all are equally the beloved friends of Jesus.

One can easily be surprised in searching for the Roman Catholic Church of Christ Our Hope. This new parish in downtown Seattle is just five years old. Housed in the Josephinum building on the corner of Stewart and Second Avenue, it seems hidden in this eighteen story structure. However, one only has to walk in front of this building or simply pass through the entrance to become aware there is something more, something else here. Perhaps it is the rough exterior of the bearded stranger who greets you with a tangle of words and phrases outside of a familiar usual welcome or greeting. Perhaps it is the desk clerk himself seated behind the desk top staring into a computer in front of him. Yet, his gaze tells you of a consequence of living outside the usual confines of a city neighborhood. Perhaps it is the elderly woman with her little, ragged looking poodle. There is something more here and you know it at nine o’clock this Sunday morning.

The folks who come here for Sunday worship are companions from the wealth of high rise condos mixing with the stumbling young woman who appears frightened and bewildered. What lures the woman from the street, the hedge-fund leader from the high rise and the blind and bald African American to this setting so unlike a neighborhood church with steeple or cross? And then there is the priest attired in his robe and stole standing out there in front greeting everyone, literally everyone coming up and down Second Avenue. He has a greeting and a welcome no matter what the challenge and yet, he does not even coax or call anyone to come into his unassuming church. He simply is walking with Jesus as a friend and greeting everyone he meets as a friend of Jesus as well.

Inside the actual church body, once a dining room, the lightness of the morning cheer is captivating. These, too, are friends of Jesus sharing their early morning exchange with a hug, a laugh or a word of concern and compassion. It is “catching.” There is no better hug for a life-long friend than for the dear, little lady who does not speak the language of the folks. There is no better welcome for the choir leader than the sad and quite disheveled young man… These are all friends of Jesus. There is the widow who just lost her young husband. There is the young adult who has just been baptized after his long year of questioning and challenging to the pious and the faithful. There is the older couple whose daughter has been ill and bedridden for years with a rare disease and the lonely teenager who searches for a familiar friend, and is greeted by the Christ, so present as friend and lover and the newly married couple holding hands in that side pew realizing only too well that they are walking with and in Jesus right now and right here.

(Written and first posted in 2013)
Guest Reflections Week of Prayer 2016

WEEK OF PRAYER REFLECTION January 18, 2016

DAY ONE: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR
CHRISTIAN UNITY

Reflection by Rev. Terri Stewart (Director, Youth Chaplaincy Coalition, Canoness, BeguineAgain.com)

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Artwork by Jame Shaffer

In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis, we are presented the heroic figure of Aslan. Aslan, through a variety of trials, becomes the perfect sacrifice as a substitute for sinful Edward, who by rights, should be executed. As such, as a sacrifice that is sinless, Aslan saves not only Edward, but Narnia. This is, of course, a beautifully told metaphor of Jesus. During the death scene, Aslan is on the table and stabbed by Jadis, the witch. The party being over, he is abandoned, left on the table. The girls, Susan and Lucy, watch the whole scene from the woods. After his death, they notice little mice gnawing on the ropes that bind the great Lion (of Judah). The girls look off to the sunrise over the sea. Suddenly, they hear a crash behind them. They turn to see a broken table and a missing Aslan.

In many ways, this is what the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity calls forth in me: An awareness of a broken table and a missing Christ. A Christ missing from our dealings with one another as presentation of Christianity falls short of the universal church of Christ. I am further reminded of this when I read the Preamble to the Constitution of the United Methodist Church.

The church is a community of all true believers under the Lordship of Christ. It is the redeemed and redeeming fellowship in which the Word of God is preached by persons divinely called, and the sacraments are duly administered according to Christ’s own appointment. Under the discipline of the Holy Spirit the church seeks to provide for the maintenance of worship, the edification of believers, and the redemption of the world. The church of Jesus Christ exists in and for the world, and its very dividedness is a hindrance to its mission in that world.[i]

The Preamble acknowledges the nature of the broken table and that our brokenness is a hindrance to Christ’s mission: to feed the hungry, give drink to thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and to visit the imprisoned.[ii] We, the people in Christ’s universal church, are responsible for the failure of the church and the failure of the completion of God’s mission on earth. That is incredibly sad. However, the hope that comes from the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an acknowledgement of our brokenness and a way of looking at living into the unity of the church through being united with Christ. We don’t have to all be the same, going to the same church, members of the same ecclesial body, but through serving Christ, we become united with Christ[iii] and with each other. This is a gift of God that happens in glimmers and sparks everywhere, every day. In prisons, in hospitals, on the street as help is given to a homeless man or woman…each one a glimmer of the church of Jesus Christ that exists in and for the world.

We have a theological saying that is frequently used when we speak of the reign of God: The Kingdom now, but not yet. By this we acknowledge that God’s Kingdom can be seen in the places in the world where love reigns, but it is not a universal fact for all. The same can be said for the church. And perhaps that is the biggest gift the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity gives us. A reminder of what the Church now, but not yet, is.

[i]   No Author (2009-01-01). The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2008-2012 (p. 21). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
[ii]   Matthew 25: 35-36
[iii] John 12:26

Guest Reflections Week of Prayer 2016

DAY EIGHT: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY – Sunday, January 25, 2015

Reflection from the Churches of Brazil

 

With her heart transformed, the Samaritan woman goes out in mission. She announces to her people that she has found the Messiah. Many believed in Jesus “because of the woman’s witness” (John 4:39). The force of her witness stems from the transformation of her life caused by her encounter with Jesus. Thanks to her attitude of openness, she recognized in that stranger “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

Mission is a key element of Christian faith. Every Christian is called to announce the name of the Lord. Pope Francis told missionaries, “Wherever you may go, it would do you well to think that the Spirit of God always gets there ahead of us.” Mission is not proselytism. Those who truly announce Jesus approach others in loving dialogue, open to mutual learning, and respecting difference. Our mission requires us to learn to drink from the living water without taking hold of the well. The well does not belong to us. Rather, we draw life from the well, the well of living water which is given by Christ.

Our mission must be a work both of word and witness. We seek to live out what we proclaim. The late Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara, once said that many have become atheists because they have become disillusioned by people of faith who do not practice what they preach. The witness of the woman led her community to believe in Jesus because her brothers and sisters saw coherence between her words and her own transformation.

If our word and witness is authentic, the world will hear and believe. “How are they to believe if they have not heard?” (Rom 10:14).

—»»» Ω «««—

Theme for the Day: WITNESS

Exodus 3:13-15 Moses at the Burning Bush

Psalm 30 The Lord restores us to life

Romans 10:14-17 “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

John 4:27-30.39-40 Many believed because of the woman’s testimony

Questions:

  1. What is the relationship between unity and mission?
  2. Do you know people in your community whose life story is a witness to unity?

School Cycle of Prayer:

We pray today for the Ministerial and Theological Integration II class taught by Rick Russell; Rebecca Cobb, faculty; Kristin Houvaguimian, staff; Jessica Palmer, graduate assistant; Lynelle Kearney and Lynn Kittridge, students.

Prayer

God, spring of living water,

Make of us witnesses of unity through both our words and our lives.

Help us to understand that we are not the owners of the well,

and give us the wisdom to welcome the same grace in one another.

Transform our hearts and our lives

so that we might be genuine bearers of the Good News.

And lead us always to the encounter with the other,

as an encounter with you.

We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Guest Reflections Prayer Resources SU STM Daily Prayers Week of Prayer 2015

DAY SIX: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY – Friday, January 23, 2015

Reflection

by The Rev. Canon Marilyn Cornwell, Ph.D.

Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Seattle, Washington

 

You have no bucket and the well is deep” (John 4:11)

The green sloping lawn in front of the church on the corner teamed with people from all over the local community that summer Sunday morning as members of five churches in the Magnolia neighborhood gathered for worship. In the midst of the assembled seating rose the large baptismal font, empty and open to the sky. At the beginning of worship water from the churches of the five different denominations was brought from five directions to fill the font as a symbol of our unity in Christ. My Presbyterian colleague, Pastor Deb, used the words from the chapel of St. John Lateran to proclaim, “No barrier can divide where life unites: one faith, one fount, one spirit, makes one people!”

During Holy Communion our voices lifted in joy as we sang, “One bread, one body, one Lord of all; one cup of blessing which we bless. And we though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.” As one of the five pastors serving Holy Communion, a poignant interaction in the Communion line is etched in my memory: one of the elders from my parish tried to touch the water in the font as she walked by to receive bread and wine, but her cane kept getting in the way; a member of one of the other parishes saw her desire to reach the water and helped her do so.

The well is deep. It gushes up so that we might never be thirsty. And, often we need each other – be it loved one or stranger – to reach the Living Water of life. Our commitment to our common life may take other forms, yet our five churches are committed to ongoing dialogue, worship, fellowship and compassionate action in Christ’s name.

In closing that summer Sunday our combined voices rang out in song, “Let us bring the gifts that differ and in splendid varied way, sing a new Church into being, one in faith and love and praise.”

—»»» Ω «««—

Theme for the Day: TESTIMONY

Scripture Readings:

Exodus 2:15-22 Moses at the well of Midian

Psalm 91 The song of those who take refuge in the Lord

1 John 4:16-21 Perfect love casts out fear

John 4:11-15 “A spring of water welling up to eternal life”

Questions:

  1. How do you interpret Jesus’ words that through him we may become “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14)?
  2. Where do you see Christian people being springs of living water for you and for others?
  3. Which are the situations in public life to which the churches should speak with a single voice in order to be springs of living water?

School Cycle of Prayer:

We pray today for the Integration of Transformational Leadership for Justice I class taught by Sharon Callahan; Michael Trice, Assistant Dean; Hannah Crivello, staff; Irene DeMaris, graduate assistant; Kathleen Hosfeld and Sheila Houston, students.

Prayer

Triune God,

following the example of Jesus,

make us witnesses to your love.

Grant us to become instruments of justice, peace and solidarity.

May your Spirit move us towards concrete actions that lead to unity.

May walls be transformed into bridges.

This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Guest Reflections SU STM Daily Prayers Week of Prayer 2015

DAY FOUR: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY – Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Reflection

by Kathryn Sharp, Mission President – Greater Pacific Northwest-USA, Community of Christ (ksharp@cofchrist.org)

WP_20140425_17_16_20_Pro

“We worship what we know”

A few years ago my faith community, Community of Christ, celebrated the 50th anniversary of our retreat center on Samish Island, north of Mount Vernon, WA. Samish Island Campground is a center for intergenerational family camps, youth camps, fine arts and congregational retreats, weddings, family events, and more. Owned jointly by our members in Washington state and British Columbia, it has a long history of honoring American and Canadian culture. Because of the spiritual and fellowship experiences we’ve shared together over many years, we often refer to Samish Island Campground as our “sacred ground.”

From the beginning, our community respected the burial grounds of a Samish chief overlooking the bluff within our property, but our contact with Samish tribal members was limited. We’ve rented our grounds to a wide diversity of people, including Zen Buddhist groups, water colorists, elementary public-school students, adults with special needs, and even young children scarred severely by fire.

Planning our weekend commemoration, we knew that all these groups made our campground sacred, not just our own Christian community. We wanted everyone to come celebrate with us, culminating in an interfaith worship service. We wanted to create a sacred and welcoming space for all people and all religions (and no religion) that had loved and blessed our grounds. Unfortunately as the worship service planner and presider, I had no knowledge of Samish culture, little of indigenous spirituality, and even less experience with Buddhism. I didn’t know the representatives from each group or even the next-door neighbors to our campground. How could we bridge these gaps, honor each one, celebrate the spirit of the place, and acknowledge the divine in each other?

I need not have worried. The service opened with a haunting and thrilling welcoming song of the Samish people, sung by a Samish tribeswoman. Telling us about her tribe, she said how welcome she felt to see our chairs arranged in a circle, with the four cardinal points (north, south, east and west) to which Native people pray. (I had arranged them this way without any knowledge of this custom.) We sang adapted hymns so that verses could be sung authentically by all—songs praising the beauty and power of creation and the Creator. The Zen Buddhist representative showed us how to use a Buddhist prayer wheel, which they presented as a gift for permanent installation at Samish.

Like Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, we quickly bonded. Christian tradition identifies such unity as the work of the Holy Spirit. We shared openly and trustingly our faith traditions, values and spiritual ties to this place. We intimately connected as “We worship what we know” (John 4: 22b). Bridging our differences, we shared in the rich gifts each brought to this special nurturing place, going back countless generations. Many said this unifying interfaith service was a powerful spiritual highpoint for them.

Our beloved and blessed Samish Island: mountains, mudflats, sandy beaches, forests, clearings, blue herons, eagles, deer, rabbits, shellfish, tides, . . . and Living Water!

—»»» Ω «««—

Theme for the Day: RENUNCIATION

Scripture Readings:

Genesis 11:31-12:4 God promises to make Abram a great nation and a blessing

Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd

Acts 10:9-20 “What God has made clean, you must not call profane”

John 4:25-28 Then the woman left her water jar

Questions:

  1. Meeting Jesus demands that we leave behind our water jars, what are those water jars for us?
  2. What are the main difficulties that prevent us from doing so?

School Cycle of Prayer:

We pray today for the Social Analysis class taught by Jeanette Rodriguez; Mark Markuly, Dean; Colette Casavant, staff; Ann Mayer, graduate assistant; Danelle Heatwole and Chrysty Hendricks, students.

Prayer

Loving God,

help us to learn from Jesus and the Samaritan

that the encounter with the other opens for us new horizons of grace.

Help us to break through our limits and embrace new challenges.

Help us to go beyond fear in following the call of your Son.

In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Guest Reflections Prayer Resources SU STM Daily Prayers Week of Prayer 2015

DAY THREE: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY – Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Reflection

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.

—»»» Ω «««—

Theme for the Day: DENUNCIATION

Scripture Readings:

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”

Questions:

  1. What are the sinful structures that we can identify in our own communities?
  2. What is the place and the role of women in our churches?
  3. What can our churches do to prevent violence and to overcome violence directed against women and girls?

School Cycle of Prayer:

We pray today for the Career and Professional Development class taught by Rebecca Cobb; Joanna Owen, staff; Alissa Cowen, graduate assistant; Qasim Hatem and Arsenio Hawkins, students.

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?

Amen.

Guest Reflections SU STM Daily Prayers Week of Prayer 2015