We have another very well-known story told to us in our reading this week. The Samaritan Woman at the Well. Yet another conversation partner who misunderstands or takes literally the words of Jesus and yet another conversation partner who is not named.
This was a conversation, very much like last week with Nicodemus, that was frank and honest. One that challenged, crossed boundaries, defied cultural practices but was filled with respect and love.
This conversation respected and enlightened the woman, so much so that she had to share this enlightenment with her wider community, regardless of what they thought of her or the way they treated her. She was an evangelist, someone who received the good news and could not keep it to herself.
It is in this encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well that Jesus first reveals himself as Messiah in John’s gospel. And that revelation was made to one on the margins of society: a stranger and an outcast.
In our service we will listen to a spoken word poem. I played this a few years ago so if you feel like you’ve seen it before you have. One of the key phrases, or at least a phrase that jumps out at me is – “to be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known”.
As we reflect on the people that Jesus engaged with during his ministry on earth, it is those who do not appear to be loved by society in general who draw the eye and love of the Messiah. I think this is a challenge for us to take up. Here was a woman who was rejected and scorned by her community, but intimately known and loved by Jesus. When the women ran to the city, she told the people that she had found a man who told her everything that she had ever done. Here was a man who knew her, and so she was given respect and love from him.
That is our challenge. Do we take the time to get to know the person in front of us, regardless of how they look or how they act, so that we can love them as Christ would? And does that love help us to know them better – I think it does. This is what I pray you to take from today’s reading of the Woman at the Well.