In the 4th chapter of John’s Gospel, we have a remarkable conversation between Jesus and an unnamed (what else is new?) woman at Jacob’s well. It is the longest recorded conversation that Jesus has with anyone in the Gospels. Jesus is passing through the hated Samaritan territory on his way back to Galilee, and he stops in the hot, midday sun to get a drink of water. He asks this woman to get him a drink, but she does not yield meekly to the male domination system. She refuses and reminds him that in Jesus’ Jewish eyes, she is anathema because she is a Samaritan woman. That begins a powerful engagement in which the woman is invited into her own life, to see herself as she has not known before. Jesus helps her to engage her own story, and she begins to see herself not as Samaritan or oppressed woman but rather as a daughter of God. Her response is to run to tell the others in her village about this prophet who knows everything about her. She is the first evangelist in John’s Gospel.
This fall our Sunday school classes will be focusing on our own faith stories as individuals and as community of faith. In this listening and sharing, we hope that the same power seen in the 4th chapter of John will grab us also. We’ll find, as we explore our faith and our stories, that their intersection is both powerful and surprising, as the Samaritan woman found in John 4. Both she and Jesus engaged one another on a deep and profound level, and the result was not disaster, as perhaps she (and we) feared. The result was astonishing good news for her and for those she told about Jesus. In a way that she would have never believed prior to this conversation, she found the living water that quenches our deepest thirst.
Our Stewardship Season begins on October 16, with Dedication Sunday being November 13. Our theme is “Share and Serve!” It is the time when we are asked to reflect on our stories and on God’s grace in the middle of our stories. In grateful response we are asked to make pledges of time, energy and money for God’s work here in 2017. This next year will be a big one of transition, with my retirement and the retirement of Ms. Joann Price. You will be asked to step up to give money and time to fill in the gaps as this church begins to take the next steps in its impressive journey of walking in faith. As we noted last month, God has always provided for this church, and we are counting on you to help birth the new phase of God’s plan here. Please be thinking carefully and praying earnestly about how you can increase your pledge of time, energy and money here. And, please practice what you pray!