Tuesday, April 01, 2008


“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.” (John 4:29)

She didn’t mind talking with others. Being talked about was what she sought to avoid. The women who gathered at the well in the cooler morning hours were always polite enough – but it was a strained politeness. Smiles stretched a little too tight, lips that hissed poorly concealed whispers. Not having to deal with that was worth laboring in the noon heat.

But on this day she noticed a stranger, standing at the well as if waiting. Waiting for someone. Waiting for her? He asked her for a drink. On one hand this was not surprising. After all, it was hot and he had no way to draw water for himself. On the other hand, his request was very surprising – a Jewish man speaking with a Samaritan woman.

He made easy conversation, as if he genuinely liked her. He spoke of water, the kind of water that satisfied so that she’d never thirst again. This sounded good. What a relief to never have to make that walk again. How good to be done with the tedium of that daily task.

“Sir, if you’ve got that kind of water, then give it to me. I’ll gladly give up this job and never make the walk back here again.”

And here the stranger changes the subject. “Go get your husband.”

“Uh, well . . . I don’t have a husband.”

“You’re right about that. But you’ve tried the husband thing with five different men. Now you’ve got a man, but no husband.

Jesus begins talking about her life. He begins naming her real thirsts, her deepest yearnings. Love and intimacy, shame and failure. And as Jesus speaks to her about her life, she begins to speak to Jesus about religion: a debate about worship; masking real life with theological discussion. Is God in the Jerusalem temple or here on this mountain?

But Jesus’ interest in this woman, and in us, extends beyond the place of worship. Jesus is interested in our living. The tedious daily walk to the well is the place where Jesus shows up. There he speaks to our deepest thirsts. Jesus makes himself known to us not only in sanctuaries, but in boardrooms and bedrooms, airport terminals and malls. The way we negotiate a deal and discipline a child matter deeply to Jesus.

When the Samaritan woman returns to her village, something has changed. She’s no longer avoiding people. Instead she’s calling them out, extending an invitation. “Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did.” Everything we’ve ever done. That’s where we truly encounter Jesus. What does everything include for you today? .

Everything matters to you, O God. So help me to look for you in everything: in my wins and losses, in every blessing and burden, in the stress and dullness of my schedule, in the face of a friend and the presence of a stranger. Use every detail of this day to draw me closer to you. Amen

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