Season 6 - Week 1
“My spirit, it aches from the living”
Have you ever thought about what it might have been like to meet Jesus when he was a man? How extraordinary it might have felt to be overwhelmed by his kindness and insight? The stories of encounters with Jesus in the Gospels often focus on brief minutes of conversation. They were likely momentous conversations in the lives of the people involved, but it is left to our imaginations to fill in the context and the significance for the people involved. To wrap our heads around how astonishing and unexpected his words and actions really were.
To begin this new season of Open Me, Rebecca Tayler Edwards enters into the story of the Samaritan woman to ask us to imagine what she felt and experienced in that encounter with Jesus. Writer Tsh Oxenrieder once said that poetry is the perfect antidote to social media because it has to be read slowly. So take your time. And if you can find a quiet corner (and if you dare!), try reading it aloud...
By truth, I am exhausted.
By truth, my body lies flat upon this plane. My spirit,
It aches from the living,
My bones, in subject to life.
The chastity of being,
A damaged, human being,
Who drank from pleasure,
Drew toward the need of earth’s wine.
I fed off human being
Lived off empty life,
Breathed from soulless encounters.
Indeed I was still human,
And walked on human land;
I walked from earth to earth
To feed another addiction.
And within encounter,
From thirst, my mouth was cleared dry.
My path and vein,
Divided through insanity;
With sanity and sense beyond.
It was above human sense then, when
This man, who collided the
Land into beckoning.
This man, to them,
when spoke, shuddered limbs.
His trace, unquestionably whole;
Then stopped me,
And cast a prior life behind.
I stared at this life he quaked away,
Where its limbs broke backwards
And my flesh, anew.
I cannot breathe spite understanding,
And undermining grace;
Is She real?
Is new life a view from reality?
He is what wonders are to behold;
This man that courses history,
Who breaks boulders,
Who crafts a new living body and
The legs by which it walks.
I gaper at the anointing,
And see, for his fire burns despite human will.
I stare at my living being
And with my spirit poured,
He cleansed it,
And fed me, liquid life.
Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptising more disciples than John – although in fact it was not Jesus who baptised, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])
Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’
‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?’
Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’
The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’
He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’
‘I have no husband,’ she replied.
Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.’
‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’
‘Woman,’ Jesus replied, ‘believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’
The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’
Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you – I am he.’
God’s grace is still a constant source of surprises. We often disqualify ourselves from receiving it, just as the Samaritan woman did. But Jesus hands it out freely, even when we feel like we don’t deserve it. (Perhaps especially then). Can you remember a time when you were surprised by his grace and forgiveness towards you? Are there parts of your life today where you long to experience his grace, and might you dare to receive it?
Take a few minutes to read the passage again, but this time, form the events in your mind. Picture the scenery, the grass and breeze. Picture Jesus, the way he speaks and stands – the expression on his face as he talks to you. As you read this passage, position yourself in the place of the woman by the well; talking face to face to Christ. The passage hints us that Jesus sought out this well, he sent his disciples away and waited at the well for you.
Form the conversation between you and Christ. Allow it to digress away from talking about the Samaritan woman’s life, and shift toward your own. At verse 18, when Jesus says ‘The fact is...’ imagine what Jesus is saying about your life. Let him give you advice and instruction.
How will you respond?