Hello My Name Is (Week 1) – Samaritan Woman
It’s week one and we’ve set off on another series of “Hello My Name Is” meditations! We will be spending the next ten weeks thinking about these women who have been included in the bible but not named. Why are their stories important? What can we learn from them? Let’s kick it off with the Samaritan Woman in this verse:
“The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” John 4:9
What is it to be Samaritan?
The first thing we find out about this woman is her nationality. Her identity is tied up in that. She isn’t given a name, only referred to by the fact that she lived in Samaria, so we have to take that on board. The MOST IMPORTANT attribute that she has is being samaritan. I find this hard, as I am sure there are so many other interesting things about this woman. We all have a story and things that make us who we are today, and so it feels kind of cruel to diminish this woman down to just being a samaritan. But for the people of that time it would have been a very important detail and fact, one that would have changed their opinions on the spot and coloured what happens next in the story.
Samaritan VS Jew
The words this woman says indicate that there is something amiss between Samaritans and Jews. The woman is speaking to Jesus, who we know is a Jew, and so she states straight from the off that it is weird for him to be doing so. Before this encounter, Samaria had been where the tribe of Joseph had settled (the half tribe of Ephraim and Mannessah) in the promised land. But it had been invaded by the King of Assyria, and its population taken into exile. When they returned, they were polluted by the nations they had inhabited and brought back pagan gods with them, as well as still worshipping Yahweh as part of their Jewish roots. For this reason, the Jews disowned them and would not associate with Samaritans. The fought over where they should worship the one true God, and this antagonism is the setting for this meeting between Jesus and the woman. I loved one mum’s analogy of it being like the catholics and protestants in Northern Ireland – really helpful for getting our heads around it.
What is going on in her head?
So, into this strange setting is this meeting of two people. My thoughts turned to what would be going on in this woman’s head, and that she actually acts in quite a composed way. She states the situation quite plainly, giving Jesus a get out clause. In her head perhaps she is confused – there is absolutely no reason for this man to be talking to her, and even his need for a drink wouldn’t be a good enough reason for most Jews. Others in the Facebook Group said that perhaps she was suspicious, wondering what he really wanted from her. Maybe fear was thrown in there too – she sounds quite isolated at the well with everyone else avoiding her. I think she would have been surprised too. It is clear that even her own people don’t want to socialise with her so the shock of a Jew being the one to break the ice would be huge.
I loved the way one mum talked about social anxiety – something that a lot of us suffer from. Where we analyse and try to figure out what is a person wants when they come to talk to us. I’m sometimes like that, and it can make your mind run circles around you without there being a need to! Instead of trying to figure out what is going on, maybe we should take each interaction as it comes and just see what happens. Our minds always jump to negative things, and I’m sure the Samaritan woman here was thinking “does he want to kill me, rape me, something worse?”, but in jumping to those conclusions she could almost miss the love and warmth that Jesus brings. What are we missing from those we meet by jumping to conclusions? What can they bring into our lives that is missing?
We move further into this woman’s story and life next week, and I am excited to learn a bit more about her than just her nationality! Please join me in meditating and thinking on the following verse:
“The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.” John 4:15-17
Do join me at 9pm on Monday night for a Facebook Live discussion to start off the week! I’d love to know what you are taking away from this week’s verse too.