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An Unexpected Encounter That Leads To Unravelled Shame

Dear people of Murrumbeena Uniting Church, I am looking forward to the privilege and responsibility of sharing the message with you all this coming Sunday. Thank you to Jay for entrusting this to me.

This is week 8 in our unravelled series and our text for the day is from John 4:1-29. Our story takes place in the 1st century of the Ancient Near East and centres round Jesus, a character we know well, and the Woman of Samaria, whom we know much less about. Jesus was intentional about this encounter, even if it was unexpected for the woman. Much is of significance in this reading, and yet what stands out for me, is the fact that Jesus met the woman where she was at, talked to her and heard her story and in doing so, broke a bunch of rules around gender, race, power, religion & geography (rules which may not mean much to us today, but were significant in that time and space). Jesus was governed by grace not by the customs of the time and as a result, this unnamed woman plays a significant role in shaping the Ministry of Jesus and our Kingdom values today. She challenges and expands the fabric of society of the time, and still poses a challenge for us in the 21st Century.

I wonder what questions come to mind about her when we hear this story? Questions like; Who is she? Why has she had 5 husbands? Why is she there alone during the heat of the day? Despite knowing her past, the answer to these questions, and unravelling her shame and pain from her story, Jesus still wanted to be in relationship with her. Keeping in mind this unexpected encounter, the challenge I want to pose to you all is, who is our Woman at the Well? Is it a homeless person, an ex-prisoner, a difficult family member, or someone we cross the street to avoid? What rules are Jesus calling us to break in order to deepen our relationship with the outsider and the marginalised? Who must we be open to encountering and welcoming in the kingdom that others might miss? Tune in on Sunday to hear more and to discuss what this text means to and for us over morning tea.

- Zak Hanyn

You Ask of Me (The Samaritan Woman at the Well)

By Hannah Garrity - Inspired by John 4:1-29 – Acrylic & Ink on Canvas

Why are you asking me? As a woman in a patriarchal society, I have been faced with subordination throughout my life. I mostly do not feel it. I have learned self-control from a young age and I have been taught to appreciate what I have. These skills are the reason that I have the extensive happiness and comfort that I enjoy on a daily basis. However, the patriarchy still exists. Along with the external blocks, the glass ceilings, I am finding that I stand in my own way, too. Despite the tireless efforts of my parents to teach us of a world of quality and opportunity, I have still imbibed the societal beliefs that I, as a woman, am lesser; that my skills do not measure up, that my salary should not be equal or more, that I work too much, that I spend too little time with my children, or that I will not succeed at the next challenge. None of these things are true, and yet I throw the roadblocks of patriarchy before myself anyway. The woman at the well had multiple levels of societal oppression standing like a wall between Jesus and her. She was not of the same race or gender as he, and she was unwed, unprotected. I can understand why she questioned God’s call for water. Why would he address her as an equal? Are you asking me? Are you sure you meant to do that? Are you sure that I measure up?

- Hannah Garrity

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