by Bob Wickizer

Come and See
Rev. Bob Wickizer
Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-11; John 4:5-42
3 Lent
3 March 2002

Some years ago a theologian named James Fowler proposed the idea that individuals in their faith development can go through a set of seven distinct stages. The first four or five stages closely correlate with individual development in terms of intellect, understanding of self, understanding of others and communication. The final two stages are rarely achieved except by prophets, saints and mystics.

As a model Fowler's theory works well when applied to individuals and even to groups. For example, adolescent faith often understands and images God purely in human social terms while the next stage often called "Question authority" corresponds closely to the college experience of questioning norms, values and any person over thirty. No matter what our individual stage of faith happens to be, Jesus will be there to meet us on our own terms just like he did with the woman at the well.

We don't know much about this woman from the story, not even her name. To get a handle on this we will have to read between the lines and rely upon some social and cultural understanding of her first century environment. We know for example that women in the first century village took their water pots to the well in the early morning and early evening. Our woman comes to the well around noon during the hottest part of the day. Did she do this because other women in the village ostracized her? Did she visit the well at noon in order to avoid other women? Whatever the reason, God put her at exactly the right place at the right time.

Jesus had been walking since early morning. Shechem is located on the mountain so his last few miles were particularly strenuous. Arriving at the well alone because the disciples went to town to buy food, Jesus finds the woman there alone too. An odd kind of symmetry frames this scene. Jesus arrives at his most human, tired and thir ...

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