Hello friends . . . grace and peace,
Today was amazing. After breakfast we loaded onto our trusty bus and made our way to the Palestinian city of Nablus. Nablus is the site of Jacob’s Well, the place where Jesus met with the Samaritan woman (see John, chapter 4). In Nablus, we came to the Church of St. Photina. (see above photo)
Walking into the church, we were met by more icons than we have ever seen in one church. And these weren’t small little icons that you’d keep on your dresser or bedside table. These icons were HUGE! They depicted almost every famous moment in the life of Jesus and even some of the lesser known stories. The icons you see below are at least 20 feet high and more than 10 feet wide. SOME of them are more than 3 times that size.
All these icons were made by ONE person . . . Fr. Justin who is a priest in the Eastern Orthodox Church
After we spent some time being in the presence of God and being moved by the beauty of the icons around us, we descended some very old stairs into an undercroft.
What we saw, took our breath away…
This is the well . . . THE well. The well where Jesus met the Samaritan, had conversation with her, challenged her, offered her “living water”, etc. Many of the places we have been over the last several days have been memorial sites, remembrances, historical markers. This is because many times we just don’t know EXACTLY where many of the biblical events ACTUALLY took place. However, like the tombs of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs we saw yesterday, this well IS the place where Jesus and the Samaritan woman spoke.
The well is still there!
We lowered a bucket down and we drew water from it.
We drank the water (it has a sweet taste).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEI-P-WMxSY (click to watch video)
Fr. Ralph and I even had some fun by pouring a bit of water back down the well to see how long it would take to hear it splash.
The well is over 220 feet deep.
We had a remarkable time in Nablus. We were quite literally in the presence of Jesus.
On our way home, we heard a devotion from Fr. David Tilley, our chaplain for the week. He shared several challenging things with us.
1) Jesus confronts the social norm by speaking to a woman, alone. And not just any woman, a Samaritan woman. And not just a Samaritan woman, a Samaritan woman who has “a past” in that she’s had several male companions over the years. She is, by all accounts, not someone that fits in to the culture around her.
2) In John’s gospel, this is the first time (chapter 4) Jesus reveals to anyone that he is Messiah. And again, it’s to an adulterous Samaritan woman. Jesus chooses someone at the bottom of the pile, the lowest of the low, to reveal his is true self.
3) This Samaritan woman becomes the first evangelist. She goes back to her people and shares her encounter with Jesus. And her people would not have been very receptive to her message due to the cultural difference between Samaritans and Jews.
Finally, putting all this together, this woman had some serious obstacles in her way. Her past, her gender, her nationality, her faith, her social status, and more. ALL these are obstacles. She even tries to hide behind them when she brings up the political/religious differences between her and Jesus. (and if there’s anything that can side-track a conversation, it’s politics and religion) But Jesus pushes forward and displays the love that only he can show. Her past, her gender, her social status, etc, none of that mattered (or matters) to Jesus.
Fr. David ended with a few questions for each of us . . . what obstacles might there be in you keeping you from a deeper understanding and relationship with God? What is in your way? How long can you put off a decision that God is gently leading you to?
peace to you