Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

We are all come to the well, now what?

I began this as a comment on Rob's blog, Consider the Lilies, and noticed a few places where I left a word out, needed to make a thing or two more clear, and the message seems to me, unfinished. So, here we are...
I've been thinking that much of what Jesus said, about how to live in the kingdom of God may have been changed by Paul's influence. This is not a slap at Paul, I think Paul is a part of the miracle of Jesus, but had different aspects of God to add in his interpretation of the events and lessons of Jesus' life. But, as some points, Paul's interpretations to make Jesus more of a Greco-Roman God figure, as sort of anti-Cesar, can remove our own responsibility by creating a magic Jesus. Jesus' original ministry speaks to our own role in making peace, and living in the kingdom of God in the here and now...
I was thinking, ( and writing to a Friend, in fact... ) of Jesus at the well, which I think, in its original telling, is not parable ( Crossin points that a lot of the "stories are parables, and some of the historical inaccuracies are intentional to make a point through parable, something that was not thought to be untrue at the time... ). But, I am sure that most of the core story of Jesus at the well is history.

The core story: Jesus comes to a well, shortly after parting from his time with John the Baptist ( likely a discipleship relationship which ends when Jesus is led to see the central Hebrew expression to be eating together, not ritual cleansing...) He comes to a well and finds a local, Samaritan woman. Sumatran Israelites did not worship in Jerusalem, but rather at Mt. Gerizim. Samaritan woman were considered to be impure, and their touch polluting by Judeans. Jesus says to this woman, "Give me to drink" she asks him how it is that a Judean asks a Sumatran woman for a drink, and he answers that those who drink this water, I give, will not thirst...but the water I give becomes one fountain welling up to give eternal life.

The division between the Jesus as a Judean, and this woman was such that, even if she were not a fallen woman ( so to speak ), her touch as a Samaritan was polluting. Jesus asks her to give him water rather than taking it from the well himself, am convinced that it was not the touch of Jesus that he is telling us, blesses the water with some magic of God's touch, it is the touch of the woman who, in the divisions of his day, makes the contact polluting. He is saying, that water, which is polluted by the interaction of people who are by custom and politic and religion divided, is made holy when those divided take that water from each other.

This view of peace making, living in a state of unity and peace, is so much more important in my understanding, than saying that water is blessed by some magic from God. It commands us to go where we are reviled, and sit with those our basic acculturation teaches us to hate, fear or despise, and take water from them, place ourselves in their care. How like what Tom Fox and his friends have done, this is. I am so frightened for their pain, and their families fears, but I am also so sure that they are not thirsting, but as Jesus said to the person who asked, when is the kingdom of God to come, and he said, it is here and now... they walk in the peaceable kingdom with certainty.


At 8:41 AM, Blogger Dave Carl said...

This opening of scripture speaks powerfully to me today.

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Larry said...

Oh, you are so right on, good buddy. When I 'entered the ministry' in 1957, I knew that my real (best) ministry might be to the habitues of the bars. But I felt unequipped, and I chickened out by going to seminary and enjoying the shelter of the 'blessed community'. Few, damn few of us 'Christians' have either the vision or the courage to go out to the 'outcast'. You perceive that, dear Lorcan, for which you are doubly blessed. So also is Tom, in spades.


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