March 16, 2019
“Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done! Could this man be the Christ?” -John 4:29
When someone says, “You throw like a girl,” or, “You’re crying like a girl,” it’s not usually a compliment. Well… it means, less than.
In the first example, it suggest your toss doesn’t have the oomph or power that a boy or man’s toss has. In the case of the second example, there’s a suggestion that one is weak, or given over to inappropriate displays of sentimentality or emotion.
What does it mean to proclaim like a grrllll?
I am drawn to the familiar text of the woman at the well, or the Samaritan woman as she is interchangeably called, and how it suggests a few things. Jews and Samaritans often avoided contact in most circumstances, but on one occasion, Jesus in his travels had to pass through Samaria. He grew tired, thirsty, and took his rest near the city of Sychar by a source of water known as Jacob’s Well.
The site of the conversation about Living Water, Jacob’s Well, was associated with Jewish and Samaritan people. At that moment, Jesus himself is sitting near the well at the intersection of faith, culture, and tradition. Jews, Samaritans, men, and women largely lived parallel lives and limited their interactions. The tradition and biblical story describe the interaction between Jesus and a particular woman.
At midday, the woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus, in his own thirst, asked her for a drink. The woman, surprised that a strange man was speaking to her at all had a few responses. She commented that he was violating common practices by engaging her across established cultural and gender lines. She also noted that he had no container to draw or drink water. Exchanges about social customs, boundaries, the depth of the well, the kind container needed for drawing water, and the kind of water needed to sustain life, flowed between the two. I would have loved to be a fly on that well.
As human beings, we are born thirsty, and we remain thirsty creatures our entire lives. Water continuously expels and evaporates from our dusty beings. We have to keep filling up. It’s a part of the cycle of life. There is an inevitability of the cycle of need to keep taking in water; it keeps us alive.
Jesus called out to the unnamed woman and called her out during those moments at the well (see John 4), and transformed her experience of her remarkable, yet unsatisfying life.
This woman at Samaria had grrrrrr. She had the guts and gumption to question, probe, fend off, and fend for herself the grace she needed. It was a grace that was applicable not just to those within the established hierarchy of heritage and religion, but to also to her—perhaps especially her. The gospel tells us that she left her jar of water and ran to tell others what she received and now believed.
A true preacher has passion, testifies to the truth, and calls others to believe. A preacher finds her own story transformed in the power of God’s story. In the clarity of the midday sun, on a thirsty afternoon, the woman at the well gained clarity and connection to the source of life, which is the truth of God’s love for all of us, available for every woman, man, boy and grrrlll. This is the Living Water—it will never run dry.
The Samaritan woman’s grrrrrr was her grit and her grace; she found out that she was not less than, and found the courage to preach like a woman.
In the Hope of Christ,
The Rev. Dr. Cheryl F. Dudley
Regional Executive Minister
American Baptist Churches of Metropolitan New York