This Sunday, the woman at the well, is perhaps my most favorite text to preach on, from. This complex, complicated, long misunderstood text has come most alive for me as I have found commentators and exegesis and midrash like reflections that break it open in less than “traditional” ways. (Don’t get me started on the idea of her being a “sinful” woman…Jesus never says that)…It is most intriguing to me that the longest conversation Jesus has with anyone is with this woman, this text. What does that say about her? And then, what does it say about Jesus that he allowed himself to be challenged by her? And, pushed himself to a new level of understanding? He changed her, but I’m fairly certain she changed him right back.

I have a variety of ways I might approach this text. Each one of them begins with the idea that this is one brave woman who speaks with courage, speaks from her heart, and everything changes. And Jesus, well Jesus listens and responds, he talks WITH her not to her. And he speaks from his heart. And yes, everything changes.

What text are you going with? Are you working from the RCL? Or, with the Narrative Lectionary? Regardless you can find a discussion on the texts if you scroll back to Tuesday.

So, pull up a chair, grab a mug, I have plenty of coffee to sustain us through this day. (or tea if you prefer). We’re here to party together, to offer suggestions, to offer prayers, to support one another where ever we are. It’s the 11th Hour Preacher Party and YOU are welcome here, to the pool of living water sustained by the love of wise women and our pals.

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The Rev. Terri C. Pilarski is an Episcopal priest serving a church in Michigan. She’s been a blogger at seekingauthenticvoice.blogspot.com and member of the RevGals since 2006.

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43 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Courage, speaking one’s mind by telling all one’s heart…

  1. I, too, love this text. I have made a series out of Lent 2-5: Jesus encounters with individual people with unique needs to which he responds. This one–refreshment and restoration to community of this woman who has been on the margins. These encounters with Jesus also have a tension between initially trying to understand with the rational mind but coming to a deeper understanding. This week, the living water. Last week, being born from above and the wind/spirit blowing where it will. Each week, we are getting little goodies, too. Lent 1 was stones from the wilderness. Last week was little fans for the breath of the spirit. This week will be living water.

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    1. I love the idea of lenten gifts. I give out a Lenten prayer pack with small tokens in it but the idea of giving out gifts each week of Lent really appeals to me

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    2. Gloria, I too did a sermon series on these encounters in 2005, titled “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Encounters.” *I* liked it! I love preaching the John Lenten texts in Year A.

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  2. good morning all.
    here is Scotland its a dreary day – very grey – and we await that storm y’all sent over!!
    I work with the narrative lectionary so we are looking at the triplet of parables on lost things – all tied up with Jesus’ propensity to break rules when they are counter to the love of God
    It is also communion Sunday; and we are acknowledging 43 years of service by one of our elders who is standing down

    So it will be a busy sort of day!
    I have virtually no food in the house – so will have to go shopping soon to get groceries for the weekend – I do have some lovely olive and rosemary bread and goats butter if you need a wee bite!

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    1. Oh wow. I hope the storm, when it gets to you, is weakened…although traveling across the Atlantic it might pick up energy and moisture…sounds, though, like you have a wonderful day planned for Sunday and a solid theme for your sermon.

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  3. been a busy and tiring day with a pastoral situation.
    The John reading this week is one of my favourites, and so many aspects to preach one, i feel like i could preach a different sermon for all of Lent on this one passage.
    The Wrong Person gets Living Water
    A shorter sermon again tomorrow, as our denomination has a series of videos for Lent, showing the work of some of our partners for mission. Tomorrow is about water in Papua New Guinea.
    Tomorrow afternoon w e are going to a play ‘the Vicar of Dibley”, with friends.
    here it is after 10.30 pm, finishing a little earlier than many Saturday evenings.

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  4. I started with the “aha’s” from the John dialogue…some of them the congregation probably already know such as talking to a woman. But, I am betting they still think of her as socially immoral and corrupt. I hope I put that one to rest or at least planted a few seeds for deeper searching.

    These four questions are outlining my progress:
    How can we be like Jesus in this story?
    How can we be like the woman in the story?
    How can we be the water jug the women left behind?
    How can we be the water?

    The church is in the midst of a small addition and remodeling two areas. Each sermon during Lent is attempting to tie in what we are doing there with our larger mission. I want to keep away from “build it and they will come” thought.

    Onward…

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    1. I would love to know more about how you’re tying in the building project. We are doing the same, and it’s very hard to get people thinking about the possibilities in furthering the mission–beyond the obvious need for accessibility.

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  5. I’ve put a lot of pressure on the message this week. Three years ago, my father preached on this text. It was the only time I’d heard him preach. He had a good message and an engaging delivery. I remember almost none of the specifics, though. Coincidentally, Sunday is the first anniversary of the meeting to plan his funeral. I feel there’s something amazing in here for me to share. It’s Saturday morning, and I think I’m just starting to find it. Reading y’all’s thoughts has helped tremendously. Thank you so much. I’ll let it simmer for now. Oatmeal is almost ready, and then I must go be a massage therapist for a few hours before my afternoon of writing commences.

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    1. I was a massage therapist for nine years before I was ordained. Offering treatments was a very spiritual time for me, of prayer and healing touch, and tapping into a thin space. Perhaps you feel this thin space too? And if so, may if be fruitful for your sermon prep.

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  6. “Come and see…” I love how her encounter with Jesus empowers her to approach society differently. She knows that she is worthy, that she has something to share. Jesus seeing her and speaking to her as if she is not a lost cause, not something to be ignored or discarded, allows her to claim her identity and her voice. How do our experiences with Jesus change us, and are we brave enough to say “come and see” to others? How can we be Jesus in our interactions with others, particularly those on the margins?

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  7. Greetings from the top of the world – or at least an 11th floor beachfront view. (Check out my FB pix). My sermon is done. I’ll review it before bed. I used the Exodus text and will briefly flow through the John passage. Some pieces:
    We are made of water. Some of us were recently reminded with ashes that from the dust we have come and to the dust we shall return. Some were reminded with glitter that we are star stuff. Dust and ashes, starlight and glitter, yet we are still more water than any of these.
    We came from the water. We were enwombed in water. We were born in blood and water. We are water born.
    For most of us that is true. But it has been 1044 days since [21 April 2014] the government of Michigan poisoned their people in Flint, and they still do not all have clean water to drink. The water protectors of the Lakota peoples are trying to protect the waters that feed not only their homes, but sustain the life of the world – waters that are in danger because the North Dakota Access Pipeline was routed away from the suburbs out of fear of what an oil spill might do to their land and water supply, and rerouted towards what remains of native land under native control because they and their children are expendable and oil is more valuable than water to some folk.
    But you can’t drink oil. Our treatment of this planet may well result in all of us being thirsty with an unquenchable thirst particularly without a functional Environmental Protection Agency in this country under the current regime.
    According to Jewish tradition, God provided water through Miriam, she always knew where to find it because it was God’s gift to her people through her.
    But in this story, Miriam is silent and her well is missing. Perhaps one lesson of this story is when women are written out, counted out, put out and kept out, communities, congregations, societies, nations and the world suffer a loss that will lead to their demise.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow, Wil. I wish I’d seen your take on this 3 days ago – it’s beautiful and would work for my people! But I can’t do it justice in the 10.5 hours that remain before I preach for the first time this Sunday…

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  8. I finished my sermon yesterday, so I can take today off…except that I went flying out of the bed this morning to get to a funeral at the Presbyterian church, which I thought was at 10:30. Walked around the corner and the Presbyterian parking lot is empty and the pastor’s dog is sitting outside. Came home and checked the funeral home website, and found the service isn’t until 1:00!

    My sermon is on the Prodigal Son story. I’m retelling it from the point of view of the older brother (sister, actually, since that’s what I am) and in a modern context–the family owns a store of some kind and lives behind it, across the alley, and the “fatted calf” is steaks cooked on a charcoal grill. I’m ending with at least some reconciliation between older sister and younger brother, even though he is still spoiled and exasperating…but his sister is able to see some good in him, and ends with, “He is my brother, and I love him.”

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  9. We had a Bible Study a few weeks ago on the Prodigal Son story, and there were a couple of insights that I think are worth sharing, for NL preachers. One woman said, “where is the mama in this story? She would not have given the younger son the money and let him run off like that. This would be a totally different story with the mama in it.” And another man, whose son died as a teenager in a car accident said, “of course he would welcome him back. He thought the son was dead.” Profound moment.

    As for me, I’m sticking with the psalms of the lectionary for Lent, so this week it is Psalm 95. I think I have a solid direction, if I could just figure out how to get started.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In my retelling of the story, I have the mom get ill and pass away while the younger child is gone, and nobody knows where he is or how to reach him–he isn’t even in Facebook–which just adds another layer of resentment to his elder sibling’s feelings when he comes back home.

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  10. These are great comments. I am preaching tomorrow on both texts, from Exodus and from John. To me, two important points (in addition to what has been shared) are (1) this is the first of the “I Am” statements by Jesus in John’s Gospel. He shares it with the Samaritan woman, rather than any other disciple or would-be disciple (such as Nicodemus). (2) Jesus is thirsty. The next time he will say, “I am thirsty,” will be from the Cross.

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  11. Getting a very late start here… our midweek Lent worship is on Thursday, and Friday is my day off, so while I did some writing earlier in the week, there’s not much of a sermon yet! Playing around with the woman as fulfillment of two archetypes (barren like Sarah, foreign like Ruth) and therefore exemplifying the future of the people of God. She’s also a prophet. Not sure what I’m going to do with all that except figure out how to preach girl power!

    Heading out to celebrate my nephew’s third birthday in a minute, but will be back to join the late-night party. Happy writing, everyone!

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  12. Oh, there are so many possible threads to follow with the story of the Samaritan woman! The scripture is so long, part of me just wants to sit in silence after it’s proclaimed instead of getting up and adding more words. I’m preparing an adult ed. presentation on Byzantine Christian images and theology centering on this text, as well (to be given between the two services). Since my brain is fighting me on structuring a sermon, I’m going to play with icons for a while and see what emerges.

    When I first encountered St. Photini (her baptismal name in the Orthodox Church), I was struck by her very early association with healing miracles and by the early church writings affirming her as the first evangelist and apostle. Today, I recognize the courage inherent in both her words and in Jesus’s. They both crossed social barriers and stayed with the conversation long enough to be transformed.

    I love that Jesus stayed with the Samaritans for a couple days and that they were changed as a result. Jesus as both host and guest has been a kernel of rich theological wondering for me for a long time, and that seems related to recent conversations we’re having about caring for undocumented immigrants and others who are feeling vulnerable. (Clearly, my brain is still playing with this all.)

    Off to look at slides of icons and manuscripts!

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  13. Well, thanks for joining me for this party today. I have to go to bed since I live in the Eastern time zone and have to be up before 6am. But! Keep the party going, I’ll stop by again in the morning. Blessings all!

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  14. My nephew’s third birthday party was fantastic, with minimal tantrums and maximum cuteness! My sermon is now long enough, but choppy, and still without a conclusion. Basic summary: the Samaritan woman was like Sarah/Hannah/Elizabeth (barren who bears fruit) and Rahab/Ruth/Bathsheba (foreigner who brings salvation). She is a prophet, and a model for us.

    Need to smooth out the last few pages and transitions, and probably delete several paragraphs. Will be checking back in before bed. Blessings to anyone who is still writing!

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  15. Too short. But too heavy to keep on belaboring my point, and I can think of nothing at this point to lighten it up. So a little on the short side will be just fine.

    Heading to bed. ‘Night, all. Buenas noches.

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