By Sherry Black
A Reading from the Gospel of John 4:27-42
27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to him.
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 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.”
He had spoken to me with respect. He had broken down the wall of hostility between our races, our genders. He had risked humiliation to speak with me in a public place, to speak to me, a Samaritan, at all.
I turned and ran all the way to town, my heart full of living water. I went to the marketplace and saw childhood friends. I told them about the man at the well. I told them everything he had told me. I told another, and another, until there was a crowd. I danced, and I told them my story. Of course, some thought I was mad. I had avoided contact with them for so long, I’m sure they were surprised that I was even talking, let alone telling them about the man.
With tears wetting my face and joy permeating my soul, I entreated them: “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this man be our Restorer, the Messiah? He is at the well of Jacob. Come and see!” Many followed me back to Jacob’s well. Did they follow because they were puzzled by my transformation, or were they just curious?
Many people in my town believed in Jesus because of my testimony. More believed because of the words he spoke. We invited him to stay in town, and he did. He stayed two days with us. He taught, and we learned. Samaritans and Jews broke bread together. We shared stories of lament, renewal, hope, and the kingdom of God for all people — even Samaritan women with painful pasts.
No man has ever spoken words like this man. His words nourish life; they behold hope; they pour out truth. My story is no longer one of sadness, loss, and bitterness, a mournful tale, but a beautiful epic of hope. God has given me another chance.
The Very Rev. Sherry Black is a second-career Episcopal priest, and has been a full-time hospital chaplain for 10 years. She also serves a small mission church as priest-in-charge, and is dean of her deanery.
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The Diocese of Meath & Kildare – The Church of Ireland
Academy of Classical Christian Studies, Oklahoma City, Okla.