Monday, March 24, 2014

"Give Me a Drink"

It's sort of an odd way to start a conversation.

Especially it's an odd way to start a conversation, if you are the all-knowing, all-powerful Messiah and Son of God, and the person who is coming to the well is a Samaritan woman.

I say this because, well, this IS John's gospel, and Jesus does often come off as someone who has-it-all-together.  Even in this conversation (especially later).

But right now, at the beginning, he asks the Samaritan woman for a drink.  It's noon, after all, and it's not Minnesota in March.  He's got to be thirsty.  He asks for a drink.

I can't help thinking, as I read this story, that it's a parable for missionaries.  Jesus has gone into another country (Samaria), and he means to share his life, living water.  He goes with a mission, but the first thing he does is ask for a drink.

In other words, the first thing he does is reveal his own need, risk showing his own vulnerability, admit that he is thirsty.  Just like she is.

Although the word "missionary" is loaded with negative connotations and maybe is not the best word for us to use any more, the truth is that Christians again live in an era when we need to be missionaries.  This probably fills us with dread, but if not dread, it gives us the idea that we need to go out with all of the answers and as if we have everything all together.  We think we are going to meet people and impress them with our superior humanity, our lack-of-neediness, the way we have it all together.

But perhaps the best mission strategy is just to go out and be thirsty.  To meet people on the basis of our common humanity, to risk sharing our own thirst and our own questions, to reveal some of our own wounds and scars.

When Jesus first sent the disciples out, he told them not to carry extra provisions, to depend on the hospitality of those in the towns where they were going.  Don't be so self-sufficient, he told them.  Go thirsty.

It's a mission strategy, and it's a Lenten strategy too:  Go thirsty.  Don't be so self-sufficient.  Depend on God, on one another, on strangers.

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