#likeagirl

John 4:1-42 – #likeagirl

Before you listen to the sermon below… (seriously, give it a listen. I can’t tell you how different the sermon that is printed below from the preached sermon!)…ANYWAY, watch this before you listen below:

1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John” 2 —although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— 3 he left Judea and started back to Galilee. 4 But he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. 7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, “I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” 27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to him. 31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35 Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” 39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

It’s like the woman at the well is our poster child for the “like a girl” commercial, isn’t it? Just who does the woman in this story today think she is?  I mean, come on, 5 husbands? And a current live-in? Whoa. Looks pretty bad, doesn’t it? It’s why she’s at the well in the middle of the day – so she doesn’t have to look at anybody in the eye, absorb their scorn and judgment yet again. She doesn’t want to endure awkward small talk or the disapproving stares of the other women.

She’s just a woman in 1st century Palestine. Property at best. A stumbling block or millstone at worst. Worthless. Disposable. Pushed to the outskirts. Like a girl.

What you’d hear from some pulpits about today’s story is that she was a sinful woman not simply because we are all sinful people and she too is a person but because of her particular shameful situation. Obviously she was a prostitute. Obviously she had no moral character. Obviously she was leading men astray. Like a girl does. Just last week, a prominent, listened-to theologian said women should not be allowed to teach at the seminary, for how could they possibly prepare men to serve the Lord?  She might teach…like a girl.

Consider this: Maybe this woman had a string of the worst kind of luck. Maybe her husband died and then when they had his brother marry her in his place, a common practice, maybe he left. And then maybe they got a distant cousin and then maybe he died.  We don’t know. But we do know she is not a prostitute. What she was — was vulnerable. Because women in 1st century Palestine were vulnerable from the first breath they took. Dependent upon the fortune or, as it would look like in this case, misfortune, of a man.

Yet, I want to know more about this woman than any of the men she’s been married to or living with, don’t you?  After all, she’s the one Jesus talks to. She’s the one who runs and talks to the very townspeople she’s been ignored by. And you know what they do? They listen to her. They listen to her.

We are in the midst of an unveiling, an uncovering, a speaking up about how women are treated or mistreated. Not all women. Just as not all men or women treat women poorly. But to end the conversation there? We simply cannot.

We cannot end it there because women are not listened to and Jesus chooses this woman. This woman who has been not listened to in her community.

It makes me think of the case of Larry Nassar, with an already iconic image in the person of Judge Rosemarie Aquilina telling young woman after young woman to speak and to be heard.

Jade Capua said to her accuser, “You broke and shattered a lot of girls…but I am no longer broken by you. I am a survivor.”

Kyle Stephens said, “Perhaps you have figured it out by now, but little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women.”

Madeline Jones said, “I now understand that I lived because I’m meant to live.”

Rachel Denhollander, an evangelical Christian, was the first to accuse Nassar and says the last place to turn to was the church. She saw that Biblical teachings about grace and repentance were being weaponized against victims, pressuring them into offering an easy forgiveness to their abusers.[1]

Think of how long they lived with their eyes cast down. Think of how long they kept their silence or, simply, were not heard, were not believed. We didn’t know their names until recently.

I still remember, a few years ago, being at a text study and offering my take on how I heard the scripture reading and what direction I might head in a sermon. Toward the end of our time together, one male colleague echoed the same direction and then tried to remember who had first spoken it and named all our male colleagues in the room.  I indicated that I had said it, and another colleague, a man, said to the other man, “I find it interesting that you named every male in this group before you ever considered Laura.”

It is easy, then, for me to get a little stuck on how our passage today ends:

39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

So, if you read that with a snarky tone, you get: “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

But if you read it with an earnest tone, you get: “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

And still, if you read it with a tone of uncertainty, you get: “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

This story is about us. It’s about me and you. And this story asks to be told. It begs to be told. This story of Jesus being born to an unmarried peasant teenage girl so that we could know God and show that love to each other is not a story we keep to ourselves. Because for as much as this story is about us, in its particularity, it is also about everybody else. Especially those who have been told to be quiet. Especially those who have been told that they are no good, or undeserving, or have never ever been heard.

This story of the woman at the well is in the Bible so that we can see that the first person to understand this news, like to really get it holds a life-changing capacity for her life and the lives of others, is not a religious professional. Is not a named disciple. Is not a person in a high political office. She’s just a no-name woman. She’s just a no-name girl.

It seems to be in the air we breathe, the water we drink, to just simply qualify and quantify each other. To jockey for position. To rate who is stronger and better, who is worth more, who is worthy to be listened to. And Jesus points to himself as water that you never even have to drink again to change the story. He changes the air we breathe, the water we drink. He changes our story. He changes us.

How does this story connect with your life? Think about that today and then reach out to someone you can see who needs to hear that this news is not just for you but for them.

And I dare you tell it like a girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rachael-denhollander-the-church-isnt-safe-for-sexual-abuse-victims_us_5a73264ce4b06fa61b4e1574

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