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Mission

At St. Paul’s: “Our primary mission is to relate to, and minister to people who are living on the edge, who seek God’s will for their lives, struggling to find direction and purpose in a society that can be violent, insensitive and money-grabbing.”  

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R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

The beloved pastor, after 30 years of serving his congregation, retired.  A new pastor came to minister at the church, a female who was young, smart, witty and compassionate, which raised the eyebrows of the elders, to say the least.

So the men of the board of deacons wanted to, you know, show her the ropes, so to speak, and invited her on their regular men’s fishing trip.  They went out early one morning before dawn and she seemed very eager to learn about the whole fishing thing. She even wore her cute new hat with a lure in it, her rubber rain boots and a camo vest with all the pockets that fishermen like to wear, leaving her coat in the car. 

The men chuckled as they got into the boat. She put in the life vest. They sat on theirs. There were plenty of smiles and smirks, as each gentleman took turns teaching her all about baiting, casting, reeling in a fish, etc.  She was good natured about it all and laughed at her own incompetence, but still couldn’t really get the hang of casting.  And she was still a little squeamish, turning up her nose when trying to put the minnow on the hook for the fifteenth time.

After her 25th cast still didn’t go very far, the men looked at each other sideways with that knowing look, you know, when men get smug but try not to show it.  She started to get tired of the whole ordeal. EVERYONE was getting a little frustrated. She was smelling like minnows, she was tired and now that the breeze had shifted directions, she was getting cold.  She needed her coat, which was in her car. The boat really wasn’t that far from shore, so she put her pole down, said: “I’ll be right back,” got up, climbed over the side of the boat and started walking towards the shore. One old man commented: “See that,” he said. “She doesn’t even know how to swim.”  New leadership from a woman.  It’s going to take some getting used to.

So here is some background:  John 4 The picture was becoming clear to the Pharisees that Jesus had gained a following much larger than that of John the Baptist. Now it was becoming clear to Jesus that the Pharisees were beginning to plot against Him. 2 This was because His disciples were busy ritually cleansing many new disciples through baptism, previously reserved only for Pharisees.  So He chose to leave Judea where most Pharisees lived and return to a safer location in Galilee. 4 This was a trip that would take them through Samaria.

For Jews, Samaria is a place to be avoided. Samaria was a hotbed of idol worship. The northern Hebrew kings made alliances with other pagan kings that corrupted the people by introducing foreign customs and strange gods. They even had the nerve to build a temple to their “True God” on Mt. Gerizim (which stands above Shechem) to rival the one in Jerusalem. By the time the twelve disciples were traveling this route with Jesus, it had long been evident that the Samaritans were considered half-breeds—mongrels—and the Jews for the most part stayed away. Doesn’t faze Jesus.

5-8 So they are coming into the small Samaritan town known as Sychar, which is placed at the junction where historic trails meets.  It is here at the history places te well that Jacob gave his son Joseph. Today this site is considered holy by Jewish, Samaritan, Christian, and Muslim traditions.  The well is very deep, fed by underground springs, and its water is fresh and cool, not like a cistern. The springs keep the well water moving, and for two thousand years, it said to be “living water.”  I find it fascinating, the history of this place.  2000 years before Christ, Abraham came through Sychar, later called Shechem, on his way to the new land God promised. 200 years after father Abraham, Issac’s son - Jacob came and found the city with walls and gardens and he dug the well.

At this spot Abraham received God’s promise that “To your offspring I will give this land” (Gn 12:7). In addition to God’s promise given here to Abram, many human agreements were made at Shechem. Unfortunately, most were corrupted because of man’s sin. Read Gn 17 for hair raising details.

I was reminded that Shechem is the place where Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and then concocted a lie to explain Joseph’s absence to their father Jacob (Gen 37)—another example of man’s lies and deception.

Along with these accounts are, let’s look in the Book of Joshua, Chapter 8. Following the Canaan conquest, Joshua assembled the Hebrew people at Shechem where he reviewed God’s promises and Israel’s obligations, eliciting from the people an agreement that they would “serve the Lord our God and obey Him” (Jos 24:24). This promise was another one that was repeatedly broken as revealed in the succeeding books of the Old Testament.  But back to our story.  It was about noon when Jesus found a spot to sit close to the well. He watched as a Samaritan woman approached to draw some water. Unexpectedly He spoke to her.

Jesus: Would you draw water, and give Me a drink?

Woman: 9 I cannot believe that You, a Jew, would associate with me, a Samaritan woman; much less ask me to give You a drink.  (Jews, you see, have no dealings with Samaritans.  Also, a man never approaches a woman like this in public. Jesus is breaking accepted social barriers with this confrontation.)   Jesus: 10 You don’t know the gift of God or who is asking you for a drink of this water from Jacob’s well. Because if you did, you would have asked Him for something greater; and He would have given you the living water.

Woman: 11  (at this point, she might be trying to kid Jesus) “Sir,” she says, “You sit by this deep well a thirsty man without a bucket.  Don’t try to teach me about water.  Who do you think You are, claiming superiority to our father Jacob who labored long and hard to dig and maintain this well so that he could share clean water with his sons, grandchildren, and cattle?

Jesus: 13 Drink this water, and your thirst is quenched only for a moment. You must return to this well again and again. 14 I offer living water - and You will never be thirsty again.

Woman: 15 Please, Sir, give me some of this water, so I’ll never be thirsty and never again have to make the trip to this well. A little impertinence . . .

Jesus: 16 Ok. At this point, she might be a little to intimate, so Jesus says: “Now, bring your husband to Me.”

Woman: 17-18 I do not have a husband.

Jesus: Technically you are telling the truth. But you have had five husbands and are currently living with a man you are not married to.

Woman: 19 Sir, it is obvious to me that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped here on this mountain, but Your people say that Jerusalem is the only place for all to worship. Which is it?

Jesus: 21-24 Woman, I tell you that neither is so. Believe this: a new day is coming—in fact, it’s already here—when the importance will not be placed on the time and place of worship The Father is spirit, and He is seeking followers whose worship is sourced in truth and deeply spiritual as well. Regardless of whether you are in Jerusalem or on this mountain, if you do not seek the Father, then you do not worship.

Woman: 25 These mysteries will be made clear by He who is promised, the Anointed One.

Jesus: 26 The Anointed is me. I am the One you have been looking for.

27 The disciples returned to Him and gathered around Him in amazement that He would openly break their customs by speaking to this woman. The woman went back to the town, leaving her water pot behind. She stopped men and women on the streets and excitedly told them about what had just happened.  A crowd started to gather around her.

Woman: 29 I met a stranger who knew everything about me. Come and see for yourselves; can He be the Anointed One?

30 A crowd came out to the well and approached Jesus. 31 During all of this, the disciples were urging Jesus to eat the food they gathered.

Jesus: 32 I have food to eat that you know nothing about.  This continues ad nasium. 

39 Meanwhile, because one woman shared with her neighbors how Jesus exposed her past and present, the village of Sychar was transformed—many Samaritans heard and began their faith journey because of the testimony of the woman beside the well.

 Jim Douglass, a professor and theologian, and an expert on the New Testament, calls this woman a spokesperson for her people. While other Preachers and biblical scholars have treated the Samaritan woman like “just another woman gone wrong.” After all, didn't Jesus tell her, "You have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband."

Douglass notes that the Samaritan woman speaks eloquently as a national theologian on behalf of her “ancestors" to a man she sees as a representative of his people. They address each other in the Greek plural.

She: "You people say that the place where it is necessary to worship is in Jerusalem."

He: "The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you people worship..."

The author of the fourth gospel identifies this Samaritan woman as the first apostle to her people. Like the apostles in the synoptic gospels who left nets, boats, parents, and a tax station, the Samaritan woman leaves her water jar at the well and goes off to evangelize her city.

The returning disciples are astonished to find him speaking with a woman. Which leads us to the question:  Who in fact is the anonymous author of this fourth gospel in which a Samaritan woman, Martha and Mary, and Mary Magdalene have such leading roles and such extraordinary conversations with Jesus? Would a male disciple have even been able to write such dialogues?  Or in terms of a gospel proclaimed by the Samaritan apostle, are such limits just as outdated as the division between Judeans and Samaritans?

It will still be a few thousand years before women actually are given positions of power.  2000 thousand years has passed and many churches, workplaces and social settings give women unequal status. And even today, Change comes hard, especially if it means accepting a woman in power.

I read an article in Sojourners Magazine called “On Jesus and Women:  A study of the life-giving encounters in the Gospel narratives, by Melanie Morrison.” She gives overwhelming data that the gospels are filled with stories of Jesus’ encounters with women; frequently the writers parallel material about men with material about women. The first recorded healing of a man (Luke 4:31-37) is followed by the healing of a woman (4:38-39). The parables in Luke reflect this same parallelism: Jesus describes the nature of the kingdom by drawing upon the work of a man who plants mustard seeds and a woman who makes bread; persistence in prayer is illustrated by the friend who wakes his neighbor at night and the woman who succeeds in obtaining a hearing with the judge; the nature of God who seeks the lost is described metaphorically in the parable of a shepherd who searches for the one lost sheep and of the woman who searches for the one lost coin.

 Jesus scandalized his contemporaries by wholeheartedly affirming the gifts and personhood of women, even women thought to be “unclean.” Jesus shows little regard for the Levitical codes that forbid a person to touch or be touched by “unclean” women (Leviticus 15:25-31). Jesus drinks from the vessel of a Samaritan woman (John 4:1ff); he commends the faith of a hemorrhaging woman who reaches out to touch him (Luke 8:40-47); he refuses to rebuke the woman who bursts into Simon the Pharisee’s house and lavishes kisses on Jesus, much to Simon’s chagrin (Luke 7:36-50); and he declares that prostitutes understand more about the nature of the kingdom than men learned in the Law (Matthew 21:31-32).

It may be difficult for us today to grasp how radical it was that Jesus called women to follow him as disciples. Women of his day were not considered candidates for discipleship by rabbis. Nevertheless, we have clear evidence that women were among those who followed Jesus through cities and villages bringing the good news of the kingdom of God (Luke 8:1-3). And I am sure that Jesus was saying something to the disciples like:  “the women are with us, get used to it.”  Either way it is going to take some getting used to.

So I want to remind us, especially the men among us, the significant role that women play in our lives and what we need to know in order to keep the peace between male and female.  Here are some tips:

 

First, men should learn how to be more in touch with their emotions. This would include being aware of mood swings the partner faces. It would make questions like 'Are you upset?' redundant. Women can teach men by not hiding their own emotions.

 

Lesson No. 2: Men need to start thinking about the other's pleasure as well.

 

Lesson No. 3: Endurance - "men might be physically stronger than women, but when it comes to emotional endurance, men still have a long way to go."  A woman knows how to be patient in all walks of life.

 

Lesson No. 4: Respect woman – men don’t really have the upper hand in the relationship!  As Aretha Franklin said:  R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

 

Lesson No: 5: To multitask & balance - A man must practice what women do naturally, juggling personal and professional lives.  Women have a lot to teach us, especially about being a parent, being a partner, working, balancing a social life, all at the same time.

 

Lesson No: 6: Forgive - This otherwise not so emotional breed will suddenly become the worst emotional blackmailers – men, learn how to let it go.  Let it all go.

 

Lesson No. 7: There's more to sex than just being physical – a woman gets into the act for sheer togetherness.

 

Lesson No. 8: Sense of commitment - Most men are allergic to commitment.  Start slowly with small things, like taking out the trash without being asked.  Every time.  And then move up to doing the dishes without being asked. It is a process that will bring joy to the household.

 

Lesson No: 9: Devotion - "Women have this innate ability to be generous when it comes to devoting themselves to their near ones.

 

Lesson No: 10: Kill that ego – Men, you not always right! You need women!  You are dependent upon female friends, wives and mothers. So, better kill that ego and love each other for whatever roles God has made us."

 

 

 

 

We are located at 4427 Franklin Blvd, Cleveland, Ohio, 44113 in the heart of the Ohio City neighborhood - just a few blocks north of Lorain Avenue. We're located at the corner of Franklin Boulevard and 45th Street.

Please call us for more information on our many activities and programs - (216) 651-6250.

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