I’ve met the woman at the well, several times. Once, it was a woman in a dirty, smoke-filled apartment. She had called the church for help and I went to go see her armed a bag of groceries.
As I was leaving she said, “I want to go to church, can I come to your church?”
Those were her words but that wasn’t what she was asking. What she was really asking was “Will someone like me be welcome in your church?”
I pictured her in our pews, her gray greasy hair, her yellowed fingers, soiled skirt, and her booze and nicotine stained breath, mingling with men in ties and suit jackets, women in dresses and children in jeans. Nice, middle-class folks. Nothing wrong with that. It's who we are.
And I thought that like woman at the well was to the disciples, she’d be a challenge to our congregation. But a challenge our congregation would definitely step up to.
“Yes,” I told her, “we’d love to have you worship with us.”
Who is the woman at the well for you? Maybe it’s someone in your family, a co-worker, a neighbour. Someone you’d label a sinner, but maybe God has other plans for him or her.
Or maybe it’s you. You’re the woman at the well, carrying burdens that weigh you down while you put on a smiling public face.
You need to know that when Jesus looks at you, or looks at whoever it is you consider to be “outside” the faith, that he doesn’t see a sinner. Oh, sure, he sees the sin – and knows it, in all its sordid splendor – but he sees much more than that.
Jesus’ vision could have stopped at the woman being a Samaritan, a woman, in difficulty with her relationships, a sinner. But he saw more – a woman to be won over to a higher cause, a witness to serve God and God’s people, a disciple.
So, what do you think Jesus sees when he looks at you? A sinner? One who has failed and continues to fail in some of your moral obligations? Yes. But Jesus sees much more than that – someone to be won over to a higher cause, Jesus’ cause – a witness to serve God and God’s people, a disciple. That’s what Jesus sees.