Friday, November 7, 2014

A Little Riff on the Fourth Chapter of John

Jesus left Judea and went back to Galilee. The easy way to do that was to cut through Samaria, but Jews never cut through Samaria, they went around it. They hated Samaritans. Really, really despised them. Still, Jesus walked right through Samaria, making his disciples come along. They stopped in a city and the disciples went to find food. Jesus, alone, sat by a well. He was thirsty but didn't have a bucket. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, he asked her for a drink. She was shocked that he would even talk to her, much less ask her for a favor. They talked for awhile, and then Jesus said this:
"...a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit,and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
That's pretty significant, as there are very few places in the Bible where Jesus reveals himself as the Messiah. Usually it's important to look at the person to whom he is revealing himself. The disciples come back, surprised that Jesus is talking to this woman, but by now they've learned to keep their mouths shut at least some of the time. She goes and gathers all the village together, telling them about this person, this Messiah, and they go to Jesus and ask him to stay with them. So he stayed in their village for two days.

It's hard for us to really understand this in modern times, because Samaritan doesn't really resonate with us the way it would have with the ancient Jews and first Christians. But sometimes I see the antipathy many Christians have toward our gay brothers and sisters, and I wonder if the story couldn't be retold like this:

Jesus, walking from one side of New York City to another, chose to walk through a part of town where lots and lots of gay people lived. The disciples were a little wary--they'd been taught all their lives to despise gay people. Jesus stopped at a street corner. The disciples went into a little bodega to get some sandwiches. A woman came walking down the street, drinking water from a bottle. She had short spiked hair and a big GAY PRIDE button on her label; she looked like a lesbian. Jesus asked her for a drink.

The gay woman looked at him in shock and said, "You want a drink?" Then she noticed the cross around his neck, and the little fish pin on his lapel. She said, "But aren't you a Christian? I'm gay, I'm married to another woman, you're supposed to hate me. Won't you die of cooties or something if you drink out of my bottl?."

Jesus said, "Not only will I drink from your bottle, I want you to drink from mine. I'm here to bring salvation to everyone, even the people my disciples, in their ignorance and prejudice, despise. I'm here for all humanity. I'm God."

The gay woman went and found a bunch of her friends. She told them that it turned out they had a place in Christianity after all. The friends, grateful, asked Jesus to come and stay in their homes, meet their families, eat their food. Jesus did. And he brought his disciples along with Him, whether they liked it or not.