A Voice from the Edge

Can be listened to here

Gate Pa – Year A  3rd  Sunday in Lent,

Psalm                          Psalm: 95                                                       
First Reading:                         Exodus 17:1-7             
Second Reading:                    Romans 5:1-11           
Gospel:                        John 4:5-42                 
What I want to say:
I want to compare Nicodemus, part of the in-group and yet unable to get it, with the unnamed Samaritan women, not even part of the out-group, who gets it enough to be a “reaper”. In what ways are we reapers?
What I want to happen:
who are the unnamed people on the edge who live out the gospel for us and invite us to be people of compassion, generosity, justice, love

The Sermon

       1.      Introduction:

Last week we heard the story of Nicodemus
Pharisee – knows law Moses back to front   
            lives his life seeking live that law
            in way that encourages others live that law as well
He is so part of the in-group
very hard to be any more in than him
he is in the in group of the in group
he could come to Jesus at anytime
comes to Jesus at night
in a very private place
รจ some discussion if that is a good thing or bad thing
and he has no idea what Jesus is on about
in response to Jesus saying he needed to be born from above, in spirit and truth
he replies –“what, I have to climb back into my mother’s womb?”
he is taking Jesus literally
can’t seems to get beyond the words to the meaning
to hear Jesus say
-          need to let go every marker of your identity (family born into to)
-          need to embrace new family
o   marked not by honour, station, wealth and privileges of family born into
o   marked but by God’s compassion, generosity, justice and love

       2.      Unnamed Samaritan woman

This week we hear story of Samaritan woman
we do not know her name
            or much about her
just that she is a Samaritan
            a woman
            who has had 5 husbands
                        so has to come to the well in the middle of day
as a Samaritan she is so not part of the in-group from Jesus  point of view
            very much part out-group
as a woman she is on the edge of that out-group
she is not even part of that group on the edge of the out-group
she is on the edge of the edge of the edge
in the middle of the day
in a very public place
and we don’t even know her name

       3.      Jesus speaks to her

In this very public place
Jesus speaks to her
            unaccompanied woman
            with something dubious going on
that should shock us
she replies
she replies
we should be scandalized
she should take her water jar and leave
she is unaccompanied by a male
she is in a public space
this man is not a member of her family
not even a Samaritan
but she replies
            “Why do you, a Jewish man, ask for something to drink from me, a Samaritan woman?”
conversation continues
like Nicodemus
            she takes what he is saying literally
“Sir, give me this water, so that I will never be thirsty and will never need to come here to draw water!”
Then Jesus invites her to bring her husband
            person who defines her identity
to which she responds that she has had 5.
we are a little shocked at this
ok celebrities to have multiple husbands/wives
not ordinary Samaritans
assume that something really dodgy about this
            because she is at well at noon.
even commentators encouraging us to take her much more seriously
still hooked into her dodgyness
            maybe into serial relationships
like women had power to choose their relationship style
quite possible widowed and or divorced
possible first husband had died and each younger brother had married her as per custom to provide and heir for brother
not like she would have much choice
reality is that without husband life becomes very very difficult
she has no place stand without a husband
not dodgy
woman pushed edge in patriarchal world
trying to survive in this world
courage breaks the rules of that world
engage the man from Galilee in conversation
as a result
in answer to her question
 “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us.”
she is the first the hear the great I Am statements of John
 “I Am—the one who speaks with you.”
Unlike Nicodemus
the man
the Jew
whose name we know
She gets that Jesus is offering her a new identity
and new place to belong
this group
she leaves her water jar
her means of getting water with Jesus
and she is also the first to go out and be a missionary
the first
so while Jesus is teaching his male disciples about mission
            being reapers of the harvest
she is simply doing it
            living it out
she needs no instruction
she gets what this is about
and goes out to tell others
risking all by standing in the public space
with no male chaperone
telling all who will listen
in a very middle eastern way
that Jesus is the long awaited messiah of the Samaritans
Nicodemus the male Jew, the Pharisee
did not get it
new identity
            new family
            new way of seeing herself
            new way seeing the world
the Disciples – the inner group did not get it
but this Samaritan woman got it enough to go out and begin the work of the reign of God
and we don’t even know her name.
this woman of courage
this woman of insight
this hearer of the first I Am statement
this first missionary
there should be icons and statues to her all over the place
instead we constantly try to push her back to the edges
we ignore her in this story
we dismiss her
make her invisible.    

       4.      This Lent

This Lent who are the people
like Samaritan woman
living out God’s generosity, compassion, justice and love to us that we do not see
May this lent be a time when we learn to pay more attention and to give thanks for these people?
Who are the people we live out God’s generosity, compassion, justice and love for even though we are not seen, not thanked, not acknowledged at all?
May this Lent be a time when we let go of our need for acknowledgement and gratitude.
            know like Samaritan woman it is enough to be God’s image for them.


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