3 LENT Readings
This "really" is one of my favorite readings! I know I often say this, but it is because so many stories in the Bible evoke a response in me. This is the Gospel that I picked for my ordination to the priesthood. It speaks of the call to all of us, regardless of our lives to date, to proclaim the boundary breaking news of Jesus. In this story Jesus breaks the boundaries of gender, sex, religion, social class, ethnicity, and many others. Slowly leading the woman to see herself in a new way - a way that makes it possible to go back to her town square and tell what she has heard. To get an idea of how breathtaking this is - check out Jerome Neyrey's Study of John 4. Another commentary on the Woman at the Well is at Out of Nowhere by Lane Denson. He writes of how:
"In a rapid succession of shocks, a stranger, a Jew, a man speaks to her, a woman, a Samaritan. He speaks not only across religious and ethnic and sexual boundaries, but with an alarming candor and penetrating insight. Then he brings her back to earth and does a "guy thing." He asks for a drink of water. But then he speaks to her of a living water that does away with thirst forever. Step by step, he lays bare her past and her present and sees right through her into her future. In one stroke, the rigid sanctions of the kind of worship and religion and custom that she and her people have embraced for centuries are abolished. Jesus proposes a revolutionary new liturgy based not on the usual male-dominated, retrogressive system of exclusion and judgment, but a worship grounded unpretentiously and candidly in spirit and in truth."
Currently the Episcopal/Anglican Church is passing through a time of deciding who is in and who is out. This reading might be worth meditating on. Contrary to CNN and AP the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada have not been "kicked out." The Primates (leaders of each independent Anglican church or province) met in Ireland and sent out a message.
One of the better responses is by The Rt. Rev. Michael Ingham of New Westminster in Canada. New Westminster was the first to authorize same sex blessings which, with the Consecration of The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson in New Hampshire in the US, have the church in a swivet. To me the Woman at the Well shows what Jesus thinks of our artificial boundaries on who can proclaim the Good News.
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