March 15: Lent 2020 #3

Layperson Lecture #7

To quote Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verse 1, “There is a time for every purpose under heaven.” So now it’s time for a Layperson Lecture! I’m Constance McEntee, seminary drop-out and the Idiot Before G0D.

The scripture selections for the third Sunday of Lent, 15 March 2020, come from (link opens in a new tab).

In EXODUS 17:1-7 we have the story of the Israelites wandering thirsty in the wilderness. They cry out against Moses who tries to rebuke them. G0D tells Moses to strike a rock with his staff so water will be provided to the people. This seems to be about trust.

PSALM 95 seems to say be grateful or bad things will happen to you.

ROMANS 5:1-11 suggests faith alone is what leads to justification. But this selection also seems to talk about how great it is to suffer because it builds character and leads to hope which “does not disappoint us.” I think of all of us who’ve dared to hope good things will happen, only to have even more suffering heaped upon us. This is an example of when I think Saint Paul was out of his mind, and it’s a selection that I feel is often taken out of context to get people to put up with abuse.

In the selection from The Gospel according to Saint JOHN 4:5-42, we have Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well. He calls her out for adultery, though some will say he was prophesying. She tells her local townsfolk about this, and they listen to Jesus. It’s only after they listen to Jesus that they believe what the Woman at the Well said.

The CONCLUSION I first drew from these selections is that we should trust those in power. But, I’m an adversarial theologian and an old punk. I question authorities and traditions, and I’ve been told I’m a Contrarian. If Authority leads us into situations that seem dangerous, why wouldn’t we cry out against them? If the Authority had simply been clear with all the details from the outset, it would be much easier to trust. Clear communication is important to me as a person with a language processing learning disability. Clear communication is one of the bases of my adversarial theology. Easy answers should never be given. But any answers that are given should be worded in such a way that makes what’s said easy to understand. 

And the Woman at the Well had answers for her townspeople, though they didn’t believe her until they heard the Authority. One of my ordination vows was to be the teacher who is open to learning from the students. An Authority might not necessarily be The Authority. Sometimes, The Authority on a matter is the unexpected source. The townspeople should have trusted the Woman from the Well. 

So, maybe a better conclusion is to trust people regardless of their position in the social hierarchy. Trust should be tempered with caution, but being willing to trust can give us the chance to receive help when we need it.

I offer this BENEDICTION: may the Lover, the Beloved, and the Love Overflowing aid us in our ability to trust with discernment. Amen, and go with G0D.