Scriptures seem to make much sense when they are focused on an individual and a theme. Today’s preachers give their sermons various themes so as to narrow down the message and get to a certain conclusion or lesson. It is learning simplified. This is a plus for Christianity because the tendency to digress and get lost is every preacher’s nightmare. To keep going back to the theme will assist the congregation, should the pastor get carried away, or digress.
By Conelia Mabasa
Themed sermons demand exhaustive research on a particular subject, mindful of the fact that sometimes there are experts in certain fields who are sitting in the pews, listening and taking notes. Sometimes people feel short-changed and some preachers are not willing to take questions or to do a postmortem of the word of the day. Not all criticism or questions are meant to put down servants of God. Many have turned their backs on people who wanted to compliment and encourage them. Sometimes a member has been impressed by how a scripture he has always thought he knew would have been revealed in an amazing way to the preacher.
However, there are certain scriptures that have fallen victim to prejudice. The story of the Samaritan woman comes to the fore as an example. [John 4 vs 4-26 NIV].
4Now he had to go through Samaria. 5So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)… 21“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you — I am he.”
Each time reference is made of her, people dismiss her just as a prostitute. Most preachers actually pick on this scripture when the theme is sinning and prostitution. Yet, besides being fortunate enough to meet the Messiah in person at Jacob’s well, her conversation with Jesus brings out a lot about her that most people do not care to draw lessons from. During that encounter she represents the Samaritans’ belief systems and her willingness to listen, learn, interrogate and share is quite impressive.
She knew the history of the well; that it belonged to Jacob and his sons. She knew about the relationship between Jews and Samaritans. She was keen to drink that special water that would banish thirst for good. She said the truth about her marital status. She confirmed that he was a true prophet. She knew about Samaritans’ ways of worship; they went up the mountains to worship, thus giving way for the Messiah to explain that it’s time to worship in truth and in spirit. She knew about a Messiah on the way who would teach them and above all, she left her water jar to go back in the city and proclaim the good news. Being of questionable marital status as she was, the fact is she was used to link Samaria with the Messiah. Each one of us is important to the Kingdom, no need for presumptions and classification of the faithful.