Scripture: Living and Active

Scripture: Living and Active
Our most significant scriptures are marked with post it notes.

Continuing the work of Jesus, simply, peacefully, JOYFULLY, together.

We gather for worship at 9:30 am on Sunday.
Children go to Sunday school following their special time in worship, about 10:15 am.
Potluck is the first Sunday of the month.

17975 Centreville-Constantine Road, Constantine, MI 49042

Sunday, April 10, 2011

LENT THREE: Rabbi & Teacher in Samaria

Dialogue written by Suzanne Lind and performed by Kendra Yoder and Suzanne Lind.

T -- Rabbi, the children are asking many questions about the man Jesus who was here in the village last week for a couple days. They are especially interested in that initial conversation he had with Miriam at the well, of course.

R -- Yes, of course. What have you been telling them?

T -- Well, not very much. I wanted to talk with you first. I did say that it is very unusual for Jewish and Samaritan people to have anything to do with each other. Most people think that is just wrong.

R -- Hmm. Yes. What do the children say when you tell them that?

T -- They say, “Yes! We hate those snotty Jews and we throw stones at them when they come into our land.”

R -- Strong words. Did they throw stones at Jesus and his disciples when they came into Samaria and stopped at our well?

T -- No, they were all at home or in school -- it was the hottest time of the day. But some of their parents refused to sell the disciples food. (They should have known enough to bring their own food on a trip through here!) The children did ask me, however, why Miriam talked to Jesus and why so many villagers went out to talk to him after Miriam came back so excited about what he was saying.

R -- And what did you tell them about that?

T -- I confess, Rabbi, that was very awkward and I did not know what to say. I said there must have been something very unusual, but not scarey, about that Jesus, which made Samaritan people want to talk to him. And I said I would talk with you.

R -- Have you been telling the children the history of why Samaritan and Jewish people hate each other?

T -- Um, well, I often tell them the story of how we Samaritans have a unique history which separated from the story of the other Jewish groups hundreds of years ago when the Assyrians took so many Israelites into captivity. I explain that some Samaritan Jews managed to stay here and even when the Assyrians sent Babylonians and Medians into Samaria to colonize and rule and mingle with our people, the Samaritan Jews held firmly to Jewish beliefs and traditions.

R -- Ah, yes . . . so you have been telling the children quite a bit . . .

T -- Perhaps, yes, but I didn’t want to go much further until I had checked some things with you. I listened to some of the conversations that Jesus was having in the village -- I hope that was not wrong of me, Rabbi?

R -- Mmmm . . . usually listening and learning is not a sin . . . .

T -- Oh good. Well, what I usually teach to the children is that, in fact, we Samaritans are the true Israel, made up of descendants of some of the tribes that were taken into Assyrian captivity, and of those who remained in this region. For hundreds of years of that time the temple has been on Mount Gerizim and it is the original sanctuary for worshiping Yahweh, not the one at Jerusalem like those Judean, Jerusalem Jews insist. And we protected and followed the original Pentateuch. Then when the exiled Jews from the south came back and took over everything, they were using a different version of the Holy Word, some falsified text which Ezra worked on during the Babylonian exile. Now there they are, living to the north and south of us, going back and forth to their holy places, telling us that we accepted too many false ideas and practices during the time of exile -- as if they remained pure and holy in their far-off refuges, and all their new ideas were direct from God, but our faithful attempts to maintain the Jewish faith here in Israel which may, admittedly have made some adaptations to our oppressive situation here, resulted in blasphemous and false teachings. (Stops to catch breath - is now getting a bit agitated and preachy)

R -- I’m pleased that you learned your history lessons well, Teacher. Do the children ever ask why these differences have led to the total separation of the Samaritans and the Jews?

T – No, Rabbi, I don’t think they have asked such questions. It seems pretty clear to me, and I’m sure to everyone else, that ever since the exiles returned, disdained our interpretations of the holy texts, treated us like inferior people, called us mongrels, and even burned our temple a hundred years ago,
there was not much possibility of getting along together. We have had to work hard to preserve our identity and our traditions. (now getting really worked up)

R -- Mmmm, yes. The children probably absorb those feelings from the time they are small. Hmm . . .

T -- Well, I certainly did! (Pause) And that is one of the things that Jesus was sort of talking about. (Pause)

R -- That’s a very unclear phrase you just uttered. Can you clarify what you mean, Teacher?

T -- (jumps to attention) Oh yes, Rabbi, certainly, Rabbi. It seems that when Jesus talked to Miriam he disregarded all the rules about Samaritans and Jews. He was just sitting in the sun, needed a drink, and asked her to pull some water out of the well for him. Rather shocking, really, for him to even be here, and to talk to a lone woman at the well. And when Miriam, always a bit cheeky if you’ll excuse my saying so, asked why he would do such a thing, he began to talk about “living water” which would prevent anyone from ever being thirsty again. She at first apparently thought he was insulting Jacob’s well and saying that he, a Jew, could provide better water than this Samaritan “cistern.” He did play around with words a bit, from what I understand. I think I will study his use of a few words to see if I can figure out what he was after.

R -- Interesting. Did he use other words in unusual ways?

T -- He apparently used the verb “jump up,” when he talked about the water he could give: he said that water would become a spring (not a cistern, as he referred to the well) “jumping up” to eternal life.

R -- And Miriam engaged in this rather lengthy conversation with him without fear or shame?

T -- She says she thought at first that he was just teasing her and was intrigued that a Jewish man would talk like that. So she just teased back, saying sure, she’d love to have some of that water so she wouldn’t have to come to this well any more. But then he suddenly told her to go get her husband, and she soon realized he knew all about her series of so-called husbands. So she knew he was a prophet with special powers. She was a bit angry that a Jewish prophet would talk to her about her personal life, and she made some sharp comments about Jews and their superior attitude about Jerusalem being the only site of worship -- goodness, I didn’t know she could be that outspoken.

R -- Yes, quite amazing. His speaking style must have been quite unusual for her to feel free to say all those things to him. What do you think you would have said to him?

T -- Oh, well, um. (thinks) I can’t imagine that I ever would have gotten so far into a personal conversation with a Jewish man, even if he did seem to be a prophet. Those discussions are best held in a formal debate setting at the synagogue, aren’t they, Rabbi?

R -- (thinks) So why did you go listen to him when he sat talking with the villagers those two days?

T -- I guess because so many of my students, and their parents, were eager to hear him and I thought I might need to make some corrective remarks.

R -- Did you?

T -- No, Rabbi.

R -- Why not?

T -- I don’t know for sure. He said some downright blasphemous things. He had told Miriam right to her face that he is the Messiah, the one we have all been waiting for. That was what convinced her to rush off to tell others about him. She wanted others to hear this strange, unbelievable man. And when they all came out to meet him, and met his disciples, they found he was easy to talk to and had such hopeful things to say that they wanted him to stay and talk more.

R -- Teacher, do you think we Samaritans and the Jews are waiting for the same Messiah?

T -- (shocked) Rabbi, what do you mean?

R -- Hundreds of years ago we were one nation of Yahweh’s people. We all knew the Messiah was coming some day to fulfill the scriptures and to save us from suffering. Then the Assyrians destroyed our nation, and we were fragmented into lost and wandering tribes. Since that time we have all been trying to honor Yahweh’s covenant as we read it in our holy books, yes?

T -- Yes, perhaps, but didn’t some go too far away and change too much to be respected anymore?

R -- Can you explain to me which group or tribe or remnant managed to hold onto the truest truth?
Now that the exiles have come back to the land Yahweh gave us again, have the Samaritans or the Jews shown that they are the truest ones, the only chosen?

T -- Perhaps not . . . But it still seems presumptuous for a Jew from Galilee, going to Jerusalem, to stop here and say he is the Messiah

R -- Did he speak like the Messiah?

T -- How would the Messiah speak?

R -- How do you think the Messiah would speak?

T -- I thought the Messiah would have outer fire, but Jesus has inner fire -- gentle, firm inner fire. He acted like we were no different than he is, except that we are “thirsty” for good news and he has “living water” for that kind of thirst. He said soon all people will worship the Lord in “spirit” and it can happen anywhere, not just in Jerusalem. He told lots of stories and parables. He held children on his lap. But he made it clear that the Good News and the New Way are not easy -- they are just more righteous and just. I didn’t feel like refuting him.

R -- Mmmm . . . yes. I have been following reports of this man for some months now. He has never before said outright that he is the Messiah. And then he goes and tells our Miriam. Perhaps he feels freer to talk about these things in Samaria than in Jerusalem, where he has strong enemies.

T -- Rabbi! What are you saying?!

R -- What did Jesus say to you, Teacher?

T -- (Pause. Uncomfortable shuffling) He said I have a thirsty look in my eye, and he encouraged me to keep studying the holy books, with an emphasis on the prophecies about the Messiah.

R -- Ah. (pause) And what will you tell the children, Teacher?

No comments:

Post a Comment