the one about the first preacher...
March 16, 2020, 8:16 AM

Sermon from March 15, 2020

Text: John 4:5-42

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Lord and savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

Have you ever been shunned or ostracized? Whether it be from your friend groups, your community, your family? I can honestly say, I don’t think I’ve experienced that. Well, not really. I mean, everyone has – at one point or another – self ostracized themselves, haven’t they? I think any gawky, awkward teenager has done that. I know I did. Where I stayed away because I didn’t think people wanted me around or I didn’t think I had anything good to offer anyone else.

As similar as it is, I don’t think it’s quite the same or as gut-wrenching as others telling you – we don’t want you around us. Because of what you did. Because of who you are. Because of what we believe. Go away. Don’t come near us.

I think a bit about that because Jesus goes into a situation that no one else would. He was thirsty and there was a well. A pretty well-known well. This wasn’t some randomly dug hole out in the middle of nowhere, this was a well that used by a large community.  And as he sits there, he is approached by a woman. A woman walking by herself. A woman who is alone.

In most cases at that time, people didn’t really travel alone. If they did you were probably pretty suspicious of them. People stayed close together. For protection, for friendship, for comfort.

Things we still do today.

But, a woman walking by herself to a well-known area would send all sorts of ‘warning signals’ to those who came upon that situation. Signals that would make you think, “what’s wrong with her? What has she done? Why does no one else want to be around her? Would being around her cause me to ‘take on’ her disreputable-ness, too?”

If you have a difficulty imagining how that even shakes out, just take stroll through your children’s or grandchildren’s middle school and high school lunchrooms. Find the kids that sit by themselves and ask, ‘why don’t you invite that person to play with you? Why don’t you go sit with them?’

We might already know the answer to those questions. And, as much as it pains us, we can relate because we have probably participated in that type of situation. Either as the one who is alone, or as one who causes others to be seen only as alone. The loneliness of this woman in her journey to the well is not truly that far separated from us in 2020.

So, Jesus happens upon this not so ideal situation. And, instead of being a ‘good, decent, and faithful man’ and telling her to go away, or at the very least asking that she wait until he is finished; Jesus speaks with her.

Jesus shares with her. Jesus has a loving conversation with her.

Jesus steps through all the caution, past the cultural warning signals, breaks through the loneliness, and more to be with this woman. The mere fact that Jesus speaks to her – and more importantly listens to her does some incredible things.

It shows her and others that she, this one that others have pushed aside and deliberately stayed away from; this woman has worth and has a voice. She is a part of the community. Because of her worth and voice, she has a role to play – a vital and needed role.

Jesus listens to her. Jesus sends her to the community so that they too can listen to her. In speaking with Jesus, she wants to share this story. Jesus speaks with this woman knowing her story, knowing her history, knowing what the culture thinks of her.

He gives her life. New life. Renewed life.

And that renewed life compels her to share with those who have cast her aside about this life that she has received. This living water that she is able to drink from. This water that is given to all, no matter who they are. No matter what they’ve done. No matter what the culture has perceived them to be and have done.

She preaches to her community about how this life-giving water is open and available. They hear her. They listen to her. They follow her to where Jesus is. Y’all, she’s the first preacher of God’s Word in Christ our Lord. And she got it done.

There are so many times that people are alone and lonely in our world. So many times where people are intentionally and unintentionally pushed aside. It could be what they’ve done, or what the surrounding culture thinks they’ve done. They are alone. Traveling in this world in solitude and loneliness.

The world may not see them at times. And if they do, they see only the ‘ugly parts’ that the culture has saddled them with.

Yet, what we see in this story is that Jesus sees them. Jesus sees you. All of you. The real you. The you that is hidden and covered up from and by what the world does.

Jesus sees this woman. Jesus speaks with this woman. Jesus listens to this woman. Jesus gives her the life that God has intended for her and for all. A life that is full. A life that speaks. A life that shares.

This woman at the well, she shares her story. She preaches this message of her experience. She invites, pulls, and calls for others to follow her to the one that has given her life. And they do. Again, she’s the first preacher of Jesus’ message and gospel.

Jesus walks through those barriers and walls that we erect in our life. Both the physical and the mental. Jesus breaks through those places and shares in conversation and love with us. Jesus listens to us.

And in those moments – no matter who you are – no matter what you’ve done – no matter what anyone else thinks of you – we are compelled to share this great gift. We are called to proclaim this one, this love to the entire world.

And when we do that passionately and with our full selves? People listen.

Because what Jesus offers us, what Jesus offers to the world, what we get to share is so needed, so vital, so life giving.

Be like the woman at the well. Preach God’s love. Proclaim Christ’s presence. Let all who have ears listen – God loves you, God knows you, God sends you out to a world in desperate need to hear of this love too. Amen.

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