Susan (my wife) and I decided to tag team leading a Journey group in our church. Seven strong women (Judy, Jayme, Carla, Hannah, Rebekah, Andrea, Susan) as well as Seth and myself (we felt much less strong at times) made up our group. Everyone who leads a VP3 group believes they have the best one, and that would be true in my case. We quickly became a trusted community, learning more fully who we were as persons in the good company of each other.
Something shifts during the narrative sharing time. And it shifted for us. A level of honesty surfaced from the fathoms of our lives…an honesty that brought with it stories of visions and broken dreams, accomplishments and failures, cozy places and harsh desserts, influential heroes and painful abusers. All of it somehow used as tailored curriculum by the Spirit of God to etch out who we really are, and to prepare us for what is yet to come.
What caught my attention when Hannah shared her story was her written prayer–a prayer that reflected her courage to question and to confess. Hannah agreed to share a part of her story and her prayer. May both be a reminder of the One who draws near in those vulnerable moments of honesty.
This past Sunday our pastor’s message was on the story of Jesus and the woman at the well from John 4. What is resonating in me this week as we head into the Easter season is…why did Jesus stop at that well and have the disciples continue on into town to buy food?
What was Jesus’ real reason for stopping THERE of all places. John 4:6 says, ” Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.” I get it…yes Jesus was tired from the journey. I’m sure the disciples were too. But, if you are tired from a long, hot journey in the desert, why would you stop to rest by a 100 foot deep well (without any way to draw up the water) in the midday heat? When I’m tired from a long, hot journey, I don’t stop THERE. It’s almost more like torture to be that close to water without the ability to refresh yourself with it. I find a shady, cool place where I can actually get a drink to cool and rejuvenate myself.
Obviously, I am not Jesus! However, Jesus’ actions are not even remotely logical…NOBODY goes to the 100 foot deep well, outside of town, in the middle of the noonday heat of a sun scorched day!
Nobody except that Samaritan woman.
Why did Jesus do such an illogical thing?
Jesus took a break in an illogical place at an illogical time for the reason of THAT woman. According to Jewish tradition, Jesus should not have been anywhere near that place!
But he was.
Illogical place…illogical time…
Tony Campolo tells the story that for a kid growing up in Philadelphia as he did, Mischief Night, the night before Halloween, was a highlight of the year for his neighborhood. It was the night the kids generated all sorts of mayhem for the adult world. Cars were egged, homes were tee-peed, air was let out of car tires, trash cans were overturned–a whole assortment of pranks were sprung on neighborhoods. So in the days and even weeks before October 30th, they would dream and plan what they were going to do on Mischief Night. Campolo recalls that it was during one of these planning sessions that he and his friends came up with “the perfect prank.” They were going to break into the local five & dime store late at night, not to destroy or steal anything. What they were going to do was break into the store in order to switch all the price tags. They imagined with glee the next morning, when the store reopened and chaos followed. Toasters would be on sale for 25 cents and gum for $30, flashlights for a nickel and licorice for $15. No one would know what the price of anything really was.
For Campolo, this childhood Mischief Night story paints a picture of our experience in the world today.