Friday, February 25, 2005

The Woman At the Well

As some of you might have ascertained from the name of this little online project, I have something of an acquaintance with the Rev. Kelly Fryer's book Reclaiming the "L" Word: Renewing the Church From Its Lutheran Core. As I read and live with the Gospel lesson for this coming Sunday, I've found myself thinking about the story in terms of the five "guiding principles" that Fryer and her congregation, Cross of Glory Lutheran Church in Lockport, IL, developed (and copywrited, LutheranChik dutifully notes, for any lawyerly types who may be visiting here) for their faith community as they live into the future. So...let's go to the videotape:

Jesus is Lord. Not "community standards." Not Religious Bigshots Du Jour. Not The Rules. Not "the way we've always done it before." So what do we see Jesus doing in this story? Engaging...including...inviting...all in defiance of the way it 'sposed to be according to the dominant culture.

Everyone is welcome. Including, it would seem, a half-caste, heretical female of questionable virtue who might be described as, in the words of an ex-Texan friend, "rode hard and put up wet."

Love changes people. Shown love and acceptance, treated like a member of Jesus' immediate family instead of something disgusting that's stuck to the bottom of his sandal, this woman -- who probably approached that well in a full-body clench, expecting either a faceful of spit or the ancient Palestinian equivalent of a Barry White come-on ("Hey, it hot out here, or is that just you?") -- becomes not only a budding theologian, but in the end a very persuasive preacher of the Word. I mean, compared to Nicodemus, the Religious Bigshot we met last Sunday, she kicks fanny. "Who knew?..."

Everybody has something to offer. See above. "Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony..."

The world needs what we have. "They said to the woman, 'It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.'"

This is the way the Church -- which is to say, all of us -- should operate. It's the way our congregations should operate. If they don't, why not?


Kathryn said...

Thank you soooo much.
I'm preaching this passage tomorrow and have been chasing themes and phrases round all day, but I think you've finally given me the peg that God wants me to hang my thoughts on.
MUCH gratitude.
btw, was intrigued by the number of favourite films and books we share...but I'm Church of England,- in my first full time ministry post - so I won't get a chance to wear a cool t shirt ;-(

LutheranChik said...
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LutheranChik said...

Considering the impressive sorority of right-on Anglican women I've met online, you all might want to create your own line of "Anglican Chick" casual wear. (In seasonally appropriate liturgical colors!)

Grace and peace, and thumbs-up to that sermon from across the pond.;-)

LutheranChik said...

BTW, where's your parish, if I might ask? Big-city or rural?

Kathryn said...

It's suburban....thinks of itself as still a village, but having lived in a real one for 14 years before we moved here last summer I can confidently assert that Charlton Kings is no such thing. We're tacked on to the edge of Cheltenham, a large town which could be a city were it not for Gloucester down the road, which really IS a city as it has a Cathedral...
It's a real luxury to have only one church to worry about, after several years of voluntary ministry in a 3 parish benefice...but I still can't adjust to the huge number of people who have to be consulted about things here...the church council is about the same size as my previous congregation!
Oh...the sermon went startlingly well...but glad it's over, nonetheless. It was one of those that just didn't want to jell in preparation.