For Cocoa Pres on Gifts of Women Sunday
Last summer, my son and I discovered the latest version of the British science fiction television show- Dr. Who. We have watched as the Doctor and his lovely companions travel through time in time machine called the TARDIS. They battle aliens, protecting the earth and other planets- and even meeting interesting historical figures along the way.
Since this is science FICTION, I can’t pretend to know if this makes scientific sense, but sometimes all this moving back and forth through space and time and interacting with events leads to alternate realities… Somehow they find worlds that exist and run parallel to one another, in the same locations, but never quite intersecting.
I suspect this seems completely off topic – but the thing is, reading the gospels I sometimes get the feeling that the disciples are living in an alternate reality. They move alongside Jesus in time and space, but not exactly with him. For example – At the start of this passage, the disciples return from the village where they had gathered some food to find Jesus talking with a woman- a Samaritan woman, at that.
Unfazed, the disciples urge Jesus to eat… after all, he must be hungry. Jesus invites them into a deeper spiritual conversation, but when Jesus says he offers food they know nothing about- they wonder who might have brought him lunch while they were gone.
I wonder sometimes Jesus, being fully human, might have sighed and shaken his head a bit before starting a discourse on sowing and reaping.
But before we go into what Jesus has to say to his disciples, we need to back up a bit and consider more closely the woman whose presence the disciples didn’t bother to question. You see, her conversation with Jesus provides some interesting parallels.
Instead of food, Jesus offered the woman water… living water that will assure that she never thirsts.
Water that will become a wellspring of eternal life.
Like the disciples, the woman first takes Jesus quite literally, but when he talks with her about the details of her life, she begins to see something else… Perhaps he is a prophet…
As Jesus speaks of worshiping God in spirit and truth, she reveals that she knows about the promised messiah, the one who will come and make everything clear. You see, generations of Jews and the gentiles who lived near and among them had heard the stories and the prophecies of the Messiah’s coming- including the Samaritans.
Jesus says, “I who speak to you am he.”
It is at this moment… heavy with revelation and expectation… that the disciples returned.
And as Jesus begins to talk with them about food, the woman returns to her village, so distracted by this conversation that she forgets her jug of water…
This man was no mere prophet.
And this woman would never see the world the same way again.
She runs home and tells the story to all who would listen. Like an excited child, she must have pointed back down the road toward the well.
“He is there- and he told me everything about my life… yes, out by Jacob’s well… over there… Could he be the one? Could it be true? Come and see…”
And the people came, walking from the town to the well where they would meet this man who offered living water.
They came, they saw, they listened, and they believed.
Many believed because of the woman’s testimony.
Many more believed because of the testimony of Jesus himself.
Because of his words.
The Samaritans said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Now, here’s the thing… why didn’t all those people come back with the disciples?
What were those guys doing in town all that time? Didn’t they think to tell the people stories about Jesus?
Perhaps they were just being a little too literal, doing exactly what the rabbi said: gathering food.
Or perhaps, like the Samaritan woman, the townspeople were invisible to the disciples. After all, they were good Jews, not meant to interact with Samaritans.
I sort of wanted Jesus to pack the disciples into a time machine and send them back to the village to try again. This time with part of Paul’s letter to the Romans…
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?
But God didn’t bend the timeline to send the disciples back.
Jesus- the living Word- gave them a reality check.
And as you and I encounter Christ today in the reading of the Word, we get the same treatment.
We are reminded that Jesus is our savior AND the savior of the world.
We are reminded of the well of living water that flows from within each of us.
And we are reminded of the food that is, as Jesus said, “to do the will of God and to finish God’s work.”
We are to be fed and sustained by doing the work of the sower and the work of the reaper.
Jesus opens our eyes to the harvest. Then He opens our hearts to those we never thought we’d love: the children in the nursery who cry because they aren’t used to mom and dad dropping them off,
the co-worker who carries a load of stress from home to the office, the overwhelmed new parent, the prisoner struggling with addiction, the homeless woman behind Publix, the gay neighbor who lost his partner to cancer.
God breaks down the walls we’ve built in our hearts, removing the hypocrisy, the obliviousness, and the -isms that help separate people into “us” and “them.”
The ministry of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit opens our mouths to tell our stories of redemption and reconciliation, of our own life-altering encounters with the risen Christ.
Whether our words are the first time a friend hears the name of Jesus or the moment that the truth of God’s grace finally grips a neighbor’s heart,
every conversation that points to Christ is the work of worship and the work of proclamation.
Just after Paul calls on the Romans to do just that- to go and tell the Good News, he echoes Isaiah 52:7
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”
Peace- good tidings- salvation- Good news indeed.
The woman at the well and ran back to her village…
The women who discovered the empty tomb and ran to tell the other disciples…
Eunice and Lois who taught Timothy about Christ before Paul came to town…
Each of these women and countless others across the ages pointed the way to Christ. They brought the good news of God’s grace in the life, death and resurrection of Promised messiah – Jesus Christ
All on their beautiful feet.
Beautiful. Not because they were particularly clean…
Not because they had expensive shoes – or wore shoes at all…
Not even because God knit their feet together in their mothers’ wombs with extraordinary care
No- the beauty comes from the faithfulness and boldness to cry out-
“Come on! Come look! Come taste and see! It is him! The promised one!”
So what Good News do we have to share today? Right here in Cocoa? Right now? We can certainly say…
“Good News- Our God really does reign in this world that seems to be spiraling out of control!”
“Good News- The Prince of Peace really does have something to say to us in a time of conflict and incivility!”
Good News- the Holy Spirit really does bring comfort, power, inspiration and revelation to those in need!
Take a look at your feet. No, really look down there…
You see, as we sing God’s word together, listen to God’s word, partake of the Word in the bread and the wine, as we speak peace to one another… you are proclaiming the Good News of God’s presence here and preparing to take it to the streets.
Good News!! Whether your feet are fresh from a trip to the spa for a pedicure or more at home inside a size 16 sneaker than breathing fresh air….
They are beautiful –
They are wonderfully and fearfully made to carry you to the places and the people who are hungry and thirsty, so that they too might believe in the One who was and is and is to come. Amen.