I want to begin a series of brief thoughts during this season of Lent based on the Lectionary Readings. March 20 begins the second week of Lent. It also begins readings in the Books of the Prophet Jeremiah, the Book of Romans and the Gospel of John.
Jeremiah prophesies during a time which is quite akin to our time. Josiah is a young king who seeks to follow the LORD. Yet, political and religious leaders discourage him. Jeremiah himself is a young lad. When God's call comes to him, he exclaims, "Oy weh! LORD God, I am just a young fellow." God responds, "Don't you dare call yourself a young fellow. I am sending you . . . I have put my words in your mouth." (Jeremiah 1:6, 8). With tender words, God says through Jeremiah, "I remember the time my people were like a young bride, who followed the bridegroom (the LORD himself) into the wilderness." (Jeremiah 2:1). Then with sadness God exclaims, "Look what you have done now, you have forsaken me, and found other gods, which you have fashioned to suit your own vile ethics and injustices" (Jeremiah 2:13).
In the Gospel reading, John 4, Jesus encounters a woman at the well in Samaria. This woman suffers at the hands of many years of vile ethics and injustices. Her people, the Samaritans are outcasts. She is a woman, in a society where women of the outcast group are raped on a regular basis and trafficked. In these circumstances, Jesus, the Word become Incarnate, encounters her. He heals her. She rushes back to the place where she is trafficked, and exclaims, “I have found a Man, the Prophet, can this be the promised Messiah?” I have experienced and amazing healing. The people listen to her words, and follow her to the Messiah. The reviled one caused a transformation to take place in the vile and unjust land.
Our lent reading reminds us that in the world today, transformation can happen through young people and trafficked women, through the Messiah’s miraculous healing touch.Rev. Dr. R. Boaz Johnson, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies