“Everywoman” at the Well
The following sermon was preached by Jasmine Tesdahl, LSTC Lutheran Year student, in Augustana Chapel at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago on Thursday, March 27, 2014.
John 4: 7, 21-30
Grace + Peace to you in the name of the Messiah, the One Who is speaking to you.
…You’ve got the wrong girl.
I don’t DO that sort of thing.
Yeah, and I’m pretty sure that my partner’s not into it either…..it’s just not us.
And what would it do to my kids??? It would really mess up my kids.
I couldn’t possibly…
I’m not like that. I’m INTERESTING.
And…I have expensive taste.
And…well, I really don’t know where I stand. I, I think I might be a heretic.
Who am I, to do that? You don’t want me.
And…..I’m sort of vain. I can’t do it. Have you seen my shoes, God? I don’t wear sensible shoes!
I CAN’T BE A PASTOR!”
This is the conversation that I had with God in front of my place of employment in March 2009. Before that day, I was not a woman who had conversations with God in her car. Prayers, maybe. Conversations….No.
And I was definitely not the type of woman to say that God spoke to her and told her that she needed to ….whatever.
And I was definitely not in the market to be a pastor.
And yet, I can say with conviction and confidence that God spoke to me that day. And even though I thought it sounded CRAZY…and I wasn’t sure what it meant or where it would take me…I heard God loud and clear.
I’m struck by the gospel passage for this week.
It’s such a well-known story in the bible that it has its own title, and that title is not: The 4th Chapter of the Gospel according to John.
It’s The Woman at the Well. Right off the bat, it’s a little unique, because it’s about a woman…but lest we get our hopes up…it’s not too unique. She doesn’t have a name. She’s just “the woman.” And like many women in the gospel stories, she’s a woman with a descriptor: “The woman at the well." Maybe she hangs out with her friends, the woman who bled for 12 years, the woman whose daughter was possessed by demons, the woman who anointed Jesus with perfume, and the woman caught in adultery by the Pharisees. Some even argue that the “disciple who Jesus loved” was also a woman…even though she also gets erased with male pronouns and no name.
None of these women get names in the Gospels. It’s almost as if Everywoman is nameless. It’s almost as if the nameless are Everywoman. With a capital E.
And if the woman at the well is Everywoman…then it makes it really easy to relate to her.
Her story often gets contrasted with Nicodemus’ story. Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night. Jesus comes to the Woman by day. Nicodemus engages Jesus. Jesus engages the woman. Need I point out that Nicodemus is a man…with a name? The woman is a nameless Everywoman, distinguished only by her nationality and her work. Nicodemus recognizes Jesus as a teacher. The woman recognizes Jesus as the Messiah.
It’s as if the writer of John is begging us to put ourselves into the story…BECOME EVERYWOMAN at the WELL! Don’t be like Nicodemus, who can’t seem to understand…be like her! Give her a name. Give her YOUR name.
And in doing so,
Allow yourselves to be engaged by Jesus…and to proclaim the Messiah!
I didn’t want to proclaim the Messiah.
When I had the argument with God in my car in the parking lot of my job….there were a lot of reasons that I didn’t want to listen to God right then.
I was completely bored with my job and knew that it was no longer the right fit for me, but I was terrified to leave it.
I had a mortgage and a toddler and a husband in grad school.
I had really good health insurance. And I had to make my life work.
I couldn’t just leave my job, and run away, and be a pastor.
And I didn’t want to have to tell anybody what I was thinking and feeling, because I thought it sounded crazy, and I thought….
I thought people would laugh at me.
…or even worse, NOT LAUGH AT ME…but secretly think that I was crazy.
I didn’t want to proclaim the Messiah.
As leaders and future leaders of the church, here at LSTC, the woman at the well, “Everywoman,” should be our guide and our inspiration.
Jesus comes to her in the monotony of her everyday life. At her job. The gospel tells us that she’s seen a bit of the world. The gospel makes a point of telling us that she has had five husbands. She’s making her life work the best that she can.
And yet, in that, Jesus comes, and engages her, and reveals himself to her.
He says: “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
She voices her truth – that she knows the Messiah is coming…and he reveals himself to her: “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
And by doing that, Jesus reveals herself to her. She says later that he “told her everything she ever did.”
And she was so compelled, that she left her job, she left the water that was important to sustaining her in her life, and she ran and told everyone who she had met.
I give her credit though. And this is why I think she should be our inspiration. She didn’t just blindly proclaim that she had met the Messiah – even though Jesus says to her “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
She thought it sounded a little crazy. She says, “Come and see a man who has told me everything I have ever done. He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”
But even though she wasn’t confident…even though she thought she sounded a little crazy…SHE VOICED HER TRUTH. Everywoman worships in spirit and truth when she proclaims Jesus to be the Messiah.
Everywoman worships in spirit and truth when she proclaims Jesus to be the Messiah.
And everyone listens to her. And they go see, and they HEAR Jesus, and through her, through Everywoman, they are able to proclaim their own truth. They say, “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.”
She thought that people didn’t want to hear her.
She thought that she didn’t know the right answers.
She thought that she wasn’t what God wanted.
She thought that she sounded a little crazy.
She thought wrong.