3rd Sunday in Lent—Year A—March 23, 2014

3rd Sunday in Lent—Year A—March 23, 2014

Preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight oh Lord, our strength, and our redeemer.

            Have you ever noticed that far fewer women are named in the Bible than men?  Every once in a while we have an unnamed leper, and we (or I at least have) always assume that it is a man.  However, we over and over again hear stories about women, but never learn their names…and sometimes we never even hear their voice.

The former is true, but the later is not, of the woman we hear about today.  Over the years of Biblical interpretation, this woman at the well has gotten a reputation.  Many assume she is walking around with a “scarlet A” or maybe even a “P” on her chest.  But I do not think we should be so quick to jump to such conclusions.  All we know for sure is that she has had many husbands, and now has one that is not her husband…whatever that meant in the 1st century.

Five husbands: that suggests that she is either most likely barren (unable to have children) or has been widowed multiple times, or a combination of the two.  Remember, women couldn’t divorce in those days, and the number one reason a man would divorce his wife is if she was not able to produce heirs.

This leaves her in a precarious position…walking to the well at the hottest point of the day…the time when she was least likely to run into anyone else.  Some kind of shame drove her to this less than advisable practice.  She was either trying to hide something from the public, or I think more likely trying to avoid the stares and comments since they already knew about her circumstance.

But with all of this, seemingly against her, she still has quite an interaction with Jesus…and life that follows.

You just heard the story, so instead of just recounting it to you again, I want to talk about the woman at the well by comparing her to the main character of the story from the previous chapter (which we read last week): Nicodemus.

Nicodemus

Woman at the Well

–       Named

–       Jewish Leader

–       Goes to Jesus

–       In middle of the night

–       Takes Jesus literally when he is speaking metaphorically

–       Serves in secret

–       Not named

–       Samaritan Outcast

–       Runs into Jesus

–       In the middle of the day

–       Takes Jesus literally when he is speaking metaphorically

–       Witnesses to a whole community

Hides and serves

Exposed and serves

I’m not trying to say that the woman is somehow better than Nicodemus.  I just want to point out that there are a variety of ways to witness.

We all have our burdens, our shame, our brokenness, and we have all probably tried to hide it or avoid being exposed.

But no matter what, Jesus meets us at our wells.

Jesus sees who we really are—scars, scabs, scandals and all.  We are known, called, and sent.  We are worthy to be a witness to others.

In the coming week, I pray that you would experience Jesus meeting you at your well, whatever that might be, and take your burden/scar/shame, and empower you with the love of being seen and loved for it—known and sent out because of it—and set you free to share that good news with the world.  Amen.

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