Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A well Within.

This sun is scorching! Maria exclaimed as she stepped out into the sun. It was afternoon at about 12:30pm. And the sun was at its peak. There were not enough trees in Sychar to provide escape from the torturing sun at this time of the day. Most inhabitants preferred to be found in-doors or gathered under trees for discourse. The busiest timelines in the town were around early morning or late afternoons to the evenings.

Sychar also known as Shechem was a small town in Samaria. The original name was Shechem but had been nicknamed by their neighboring Jews as Sychar "drunken," or sheqer, "falsehood." Well, the Samaritans did not mind at all because they knew the messiah’s coming would clear all this confusion going around.

She took her water jug from the common place and balanced it on her hip. It was her time to fetch water for her household. She would rather go to the well alone than to join the women’s folk in the morning or evening. Going alone was better than to endure the look of disgust and resentment. Lately it even looks like they wouldn’t mind chaining their husbands to their waist as they go about their activities.

Maria sighed. It wasn’t her fault. She was fully aware of her beauty and graciousness. It took her; her third husband to understand why men were so drawn to her. But then with it came its own demons. She could not maintain a man. They got attracted to her but then couldn’t stay. She had even considered the noble act of prostitution. At least in that, men came and paid for what they got.

It wasn’t totally the men’s fault. They loved her or appeared to at least love her. They showered her with the love that every woman was envious of. However they always came to an end. Which woman wouldn’t want such attention anyway? Erasmus, the man she was currently with was great.  He wasn’t her husband but he treated her as a queen in spite of the gossips that have been going round.

Gossips, drunkenness and contest were the main forms of entertainment in Sychar. For this, both men and women indulged in heartily. Townsfolk would pay any price for the juiciest news and the bearer is always esteemed.

She was nearing the well when she saw a man sitting by the well. He appeared tired and exhausted. He looked like a Jew too. Maria tried to get a good image of him before she got any closer. Well he really does look like one and he’s definitely not from around here. She said to herself.
How come this Jew decided to rest here of all the places he could have. And not even in this town. They would rather use the other route which was longest than to pass this way.

Well whoever he is, he must be either new around here or just wants another confrontation to insult us. Well am just going to go about my business and move away. Enough mockery has been going round here and I don’t need another self righteous Jew to add another insult.

She got to the well, placed her jug on the side of the well. She lowered her water pitcher to fetch water.

“Will you give me a drink?” The man spoke.

“No this must be a joke, now my ears have started playing games on me. Actually, imagining this man is talking to me”. She told her mind. She lifted the water carrier out of the well and poured the water into her jug. Then she heard it again.

“Will you give me a drink?” The man asked again.

“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” Maria squeaked. Surprised that a Jew would actually be asking her a question how much more ask for a drink of water. That was unheard of.

The man did not appear moved by her reaction. Instead he responded.
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

There was something interesting about this man. Here he was, supposedly dying of thirst, yet still he is claiming he has living water or better still he is or he is carrying the gift of God.
Strange enough as it was, something began to stir up within her as she heard the man make those statements. The man was looking very intently at her. Not in the ways other men did. His eyes were that of searching and knowing. It was as if he knew her from somewhere. It was as if he was staring right into her soul. She felt bared.

Her initial intent was to leave but her interest got the better of her. She answered the man

“Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

The man cut in on her babbling as if he didn’t hear the genuine express of concern she gave.
 “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Okay! that is it. Maria thought to herself. 

The first sign of insanity; that’s all I need for proof. If you have water as you claim to have, why don’t you drink it up and stop pestering me with having living water that you will never thirst again. Besides if you wouldn’t thirst again why are asking me for water, you must have drank it some time back and shouldn’t be thirsting again as you claim to. 

All these were questions running through her mind. She dared not utter them out since she did not know what he was capable of besides they were alone at the well.  She began to seize the man up. She glanced around to see if the man carried with him any water carrier as he was claiming to have. None anywhere. She decided to outwit him.

“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

The man knowing the line she was treading on, answered her. “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.

“You are right when you say you have no husband.  The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” The man replied.  

This made Maria stop in her tracks. She took another look at the man again. She asked him “please may I know your name? And he replied “I am Jesus from Nazareth”

 “I can see that you are a prophet. Maria responded. To have told me my life without my telling you. She began to search for traces of condemnation or judgment in the man. She found none. In place she sensed pity instead. Well, at least I have a religious aspect I regard as important. She decided to change the topic.

Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

“I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Maria included to the discourse. 

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Her eyes widened. Shocked but then that something within her confirmed what the Jesus told her.
She took another look at the man speaking to her to confirm. There was no doubt to what this man was saying. He didn’t look it but then after the revelation she began to see something different. She began to see the LORD. Her joy was unspeakable.

With the joy came serious questions in her mind. It cut short the joy welling within. If this is really is the Messiah he should know who I am and must not even be speaking to me.

But of all the people in Samaria, why me? And of all the women why me? She felt so ashamed of herself for the kind of person she was. The messiah had every right to condemn her for her current life. Her head was bowed but she decided to lift it again to see what the man would do next. It was as if the man was reading every unspoken word on her mind yet still no sign of condemnation towards her. She sensed an overwhelming sense of love from the man towards her. She broke down into tears.

I have been searching for something all these years, and have not found it. I tried to search for it in men but I still didn’t find it. But this man has made me see that which I had searched and did not find.
She began to ask Jesus all the questions she wanted to ask, and Jesus was answering. The water errand; completely forgotten. Her joy was great as if delicacies being handed down to a kid. She did not even notice the other 12 men walk in on them.

She quickly girded her skirts around her and run to the town. She was screaming on top of her lungs as she approached. People came to stir and come out to find out the cause of the noise. 

“Come see the man, who told me everything I ever knew. He is the messiah”. She said.   
People could not understand what she was talking about but they noticed a change in this once timid woman. They noticed the tears combine with joy. Some believed whilst others jeered at her. 

“See how your sins have started catching up with you.” Someone in the crowd snorted. But then this time around no one could shut her up or hold down.

She screamed louder. The townsfolk followed her to the well to confirm what she was saying. They found him. The man Jesus, the Messiah and were saved.

She did not stop there but went ahead to receive baptism. After Baptism her name was changed to 'Photini' which literally means "the enlightened one". She became a missionary spreading the word of the lord as far as Africa together with her sisters.

To her there was a well with living water within her and she was determined to share it.

            When was the last time you shared Christ with a “paddy”, with “boy’s boys”, with sisters club, a family member you dislike? To what purpose is a lamp lit and kept under a cover?

Monday, 6 August 2012

What if?

Karen started to dress after her afternoon bath. She applied the herbal ointment the doctor had given her last week. She didn’t see much difference in this ointment as compared to the others that were given earlier. Anyway she didn’t care anymore. She was tired. Anything which showed promise was better than nothing.

She winced as the smell of the herbal ointment came to her nostrils. She felt the trickle again. Not as if it never existed. This trickle was now a part of her for as long as she could remembered.  She couldn’t even remember the last time she had had a regular menstrual cycle. This is what she has known for the past twelve years of her life. She shuddered as she began to think of it.

Twelve years; she signed. She had lost all her childhood friends. That wasn’t the only thing she lost too. Her joy as well as confidence too. Her parents being poor had tried their best. But all to no avail.

She was shy at first to confide in her friend Mary. She couldn’t  really explain why she could no longer come to the temple to worship together. Until that fateful Friday when she bared her soul to Mary.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out what Mary would do next. But Karen began to see the effects later. Their friendship began to grow apart daily till now she does not know where Mary's new home was since she got married.

Marriage! Another thing that this defect drove away. Nobody wants my hand in marriage anymore.  Not since they heard the news of my condition. The stares and gossips in public squares have now become usual to me. It’s no longer unusual to meet dead silence or a complete change of topic when I meet a group of women.

As for the suitors from afar off, they need only to get to the edge of town to hear of it and they are off again. Perhaps this is my fate. I might as well accept it. She thought.

At least I make enough sales from the garments I make to feed myself and buy the medicine i need. She said to herself

Gathering her stuffs for the day’s business, she heard the gossips of the women in the nearby house. “These women would talk about everything else but themselves why?” She grumbled beneath her breath.

“Yes, Jesus would be coming to town today; he should be at the towns market by now." She heard one of the women say. "He is handsome and popular too. He will make a fine husband.” Another woman chipped in. “I just like the way he treats these holier than thou Pharisees but I don’t believe he is who he says he is either”
As Karen listened in on the gossip, something familiar began to stir within her. She quickly brushed it aside.

This man must be doing something greatly wrong or right to get this lot of attention from people. Some even say he raises the dead. She thought within herself on her way to the towns market. Some say he has a devil others say he is Elijah raised but what if this man can heal me and make everything better. She thought to herself.
This made her chuckle. She quickly brushed the thought aside. Why give room for more gossip to people who do not have anything else to do. Besides. It was against the law for a woman to approach a man publicly and ask anything.
Then she saw the crowd coming with a great commotion. She heard the man’s name being mentioned over and over again. "He must be in there somewhere." She thought.  She decided to slide by quickly unnoticed but then she suddenly felt numb at her spot.

Her curiosity was heightened and the questions were now springing into her mind in full force. “What if this….” Or “what if that………”

She thought to herself again “maybe I don’t even need to speak to him or ask him to pray for me. He is an embodiment of power and all around him shows that. Even his very clothes might contain power in themselves. Perhaps if I could even touch just the hem of his garment and be healed. He need not see me.

As if acting on impulse, she moved and pushed through the crowd. Some who knew her called her unclean, some felt disgusted by her. Others taunted but yet still she pressed till she got to the front exactly where Jesus was. Someone pushed her; she didn’t know who it was and she didn’t care. Her modesty wasn’t at stake here. She was tired, she had come too far to give up so she stretched her hands in a last effort and took hold of his garment.

Instantly she felt that trickle cease as if it never was. 

"No! this definitely is not one of the magic scams i know. But i cant feel it anymore. Joy started bubbling within her but then she needed to control it.  She couldn't afford the emotional disappointments anymore. "No i need to check this up."

 She wasn’t sure so she left the crowd to check it up.

Meanwhile the crowd that was moving had stopped and people were asking each other question. From a distance she heard the man called peter ask Jesus, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you so why do you say who touched me."

Happy from her healing but ashamed as she was about to be revealed publicly, she came forward to him trembling. Falling at his feet she confessed. Guess what Jesus said to her Luke 8:48. "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace." He didn’t rebuke her but commended her faith.
She didn’t need anything much to impress the master. All she needed was the faith to get her healing and get the man’s attention. In (Luke 8:43-48)