Pastor’s Blog 2-2-18

A Note From Pastor Amy…

Jesus said, “But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.” (John 4:35John 4:35
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  Jesus told his disciples to look around at the goodness of God growing all around them in the people they encountered on their travels.

What’s shocking is that Jesus tells this to his disciples in the middle of an encounter with a Samaritan woman – the story for this Sunday.  I encourage you to read it before worship, because it’s a long one.  John 4:7-42John 4:7-42
English: World English Bible - WEB

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During Jesus’ day, Samaritans were despised by most well-respected Jews.  While the two religious groups shared an ancestral history dating back to the Babylonian exile, they bitterly disagreed about worship practices and certain laws in the Torah.  This religious family feud was filled with conflict, even violence.  Jews thought Samaritans were blasphemers and murders, and the Samaritans thought no better of the Jews.  They were enemies through and through.

But Jesus stops one day at a well in Samaria and asks a woman for something to drink because he was thirsty.  The woman fills his need, which opens up an unlikely conversation.  As they talk, Jesus realizes that the woman has a need too.  She has lived through enormous grief from the loss of several husbands.  While some scholarship blames the woman’s misbehavior for her circumstances, it is most likely that she was divorced because she couldn’t bear children.  She would have been ostracized because of her infertility.  But Jesus offers her life and hope described as “living water.

A Jew and a Samaritan crossed boundaries to talk to each other.  They both admitted their need for each other.  And in helping each other, they were both filled.

Can we follow their example?

I hear people calling for unity in our country.  But frankly, that word makes me feel a bit numb.  Isn’t that what people always say when there is conflict?

Instead of just talking about unity, maybe we need to take the approach of Jesus and this woman.  They crossed boundaries of hate, fear, and stigma to talk to each other.  They admitted that both had a need.  They were willing to take some risks for the other one.  In the process, they saw God at work.

I know this kind of approach is not easy.  And yet, I fear that our country is sliding into a deeper problem than just disunity.  We are at risk of disregarding people all together as bad or unworthy of our time.  We are prejudging whole groups of people instead than talking to individuals in mutual relationship.  I don’t think Jesus would want that.

Even as I write these words, I struggle.  I don’t want to be vulnerable with enemies, people with whom I disagree or even hate.   But I can’t help but hear Jesus words to his disciples when they couldn’t believe he was talking to a Samaritan woman – someone on the “other side.”  “I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.”  God is working in the soil of people’s lives and our world.  Maybe the first step towards harvest is stepping over whatever lines we’ve drawn in the dirt.

Praying for peace and still musing,

Pastor Amy