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St Johns Southgate

12 Jul 2016

One of the most compelling encounters described in the New Testament is a casual conversation between Jesus of Nazareth and a Samaritan woman.

It doesn’t involve the raising of anyone from the dead and there’s no turning of water into wine, but still, many Christians point to this chat as touching upon something that is central to their faith.

Jesus had been travelling, he was tired and thirsty and he sat down by a well just outside the town of Sychar. Then approached a woman of a different culture – whom we’re later told was living a questionable lifestyle. Jesus didn’t have anything with which to draw from the well, but the woman did, so Jesus asked her for a drink.

This all sounds fairly humdrum, but the cultural norms of the day made it quite the scandal. Jesus, a Jewish teacher, shouldn’t have been speaking in public with a woman, let alone a Samaritan woman. But Jesus didn’t seem to care about the rule-book. In fact, he threw it out!

Before him was a woman of a people he was supposed to be enemies with, a woman who’d had five failed marriages and was now shacking up out of wedlock and Jesus asked her for something. Jesus needed a drink and he was willing to share a cup with her – but even more than that, he wanted to share a cup with her.

The recent tragedy in Orlando, Florida has rightly drawn attention to the relationship between homophobia and religion. The gunman claimed to be carrying out his horrific crimes in the name of a militant religious group while media reports have suggested that he himself may have been gay.

It’s at times like this that religious leaders of various faith traditions find themselves sitting by a well, parched with thirst and losing their voices. They find themselves unable to quench that thirst and remove the frog from their throat because they’re unwilling or unable to ask someone different – someone gay perhaps – for a drink.

Religious types can tend to be this way because if you look hard enough you can find sacred texts in just about any religion that condemn homosexual love. But the love of Jesus – as shown to the woman at the well – is a love that doesn’t condemn, it only seeks to build community.

If pastors, priests, imams, rabbis and so on were to take a moment to ask a friend in the LGBTI community for a drink they might just find that they have a bucket to lower into the well, and that it comes out full of a refreshing water that even Jesus himself wanted and needed.

At that well in Sychar, Jesus showed that he wants to open a single world-wide nightclub where all people are unified and satisfied and thirsting for nothing. In this nightclub, Jesus is the bartender, freely serving all people his water – a water that gives life, the kind of life that even hate, fear and assault rifles can’t take away.

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