On Monday last week, I found myself with a group of our clergy in the Greek Orthodox Church of Nablus in the Palestinian West Bank. The present church was only completed a few years ago but there are steps inside that take you down below the present structure to an ancient chapel and a well. Jacob’s well.
We had got there by driving in our coach from Jerusalem through the ‘separation wall’, a mixture of giant grey concrete slabs and electrified wire fencing that divides the Israeli and Palestinian communities. As we crossed we had been inspected by young soldiers with ferocious-looking guns.
We had crossed boundaries of division and trust to be there which was strangely appropriate. When Jesus came to Jacob’s well (John 4) he too crossed boundaries. He was in Samaria among a people so close to the people of Israel, with a common history and connected faith, that they really disliked and distrusted each other. He then spoke to someone who was a woman and more than that who was disgraced, and he offered her the water of life… Jesus takes risks, crosses boundaries, makes relationships, all as part of his mission to inaugurate life in its fullness. Here we see the embodiment of love and signs of the Kingdom.
This coming weekend we will celebrate Mothering Sunday. It’s a day that comes with a mixture of emotions. There is the joy of children and the sharing of burnt toast. For others, there is a sense of human loss. For some, there is the delight of returning adult children. For others, there is the sorrow of children that never were.
But at the heart of this day is love. We share in common, whoever we are, our humanity. We share a desire to love and to be loved that will lead often to joy and sorrow in equal measure, and we take the risk to live as you will read of Katherine elsewhere in this Bulletin. At Jacob’s well, Jesus encounters deep sorrow, takes risks, crosses boundaries, and offers the water of life.
This Mothering Sunday offers us again the opportunity to take the risk to love, to cross boundaries and stand for love, the love we see in Jesus Christ. Whether we find this day bitter or sweet, or as most of us a mix of the two, in a world in need of light, it offers us the opportunity to say again, that the darkness will not overcome, that love will triumph over death, and to take the risk to cross boundaries to share the water of life.