The resources we need to live can be used to drive people apart or draw them together.
The custom of the day frowned on Jesus and the Samaritan woman associating with one another - but Jesus saw their shared need as an opportunity to break down a barrier rather than build one up.
In many contemporary societies we have joined together in big complex systems to ensure steady access to resources like heat, light, and water. Most of us don’t rely on our own generators or wells, we rely instead on a shared infrastructure.
Technically we are working together - but our everyday use of these resources is a direct transaction between us and a private or public provider. When you turn on your tap it’s above your own sink - you don’t stand in a queue with others. Our systems are convenient but also isolating - we don’t have the bubbles of interaction like you see between Jesus and the Samaritan woman where life changing words can blossom.
Wells in our neighbourhoods used to be a clear sign of our common need - places where we could come together and help one another. Many of us will remember sharing running water, toilets, and even cooking facilities, only a few decades ago.
Our infrastructure has vastly improved efficiency and quality, but when those systems creak and break, subject to wear and tear, under physical and political pressure - our experience of poverty is lonely and isolated.
How can we celebrate the lifesaving systems we have but also humanise them? These systems were usually installed with a high minded sense of public spirit to address pressing needs. How can we re-imagine them to help bring people together rather than force them apart?
Provider of all - seen and unseen -
We pray for the systems, networks, pipes, wires and cables,
and the strategies, teams, task forces, technicians and logistics,
that keep us warm and watered.
We pray that more have access to lifesaving resources,
that we notice the ones who don’t.
We pray that our infrastructure becomes more humane, more attentive, more flexible - giving us more opportunities to bless others.
When people and tunnels are left to decay
send your springs of eternal life.
6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. 8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ 11 The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ 13 Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ 15 The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’