Ancient Answers


The Unspoken Morality

Viet Thanh Nguyen came to the United States in 1975 as a refugee from Vietnam. He was interviewed last night by Christiane Amanpour on PBS. They discussed the current policy of the United States to separate children from their parents if they enter the US “illegally”. After playing a clip of Attorney General Jeff Sessions defending the policy – even in the wake of revelations that the US government has lost track of about 1,500 such children who were separated from their parents.

Mr. Nguyen commented that separating children from their parents is “inhumane and immoral. So it’s a moral question that I don’t think we should lose sight of. And I think too many people in this country have lost sight of that as they stick to this rhetoric of legality.” That’s precisely the missing point, I thought to myself: No one is talking about the morality of the policy! And that is very much the problem with much of what transpires today in political debates.

Nguyen went on to discuss the visibility of American involvement in Vietnam and how that prompted a responsibility to take in refugees after that war. But, Nguyen pointed out, American involvement in the conditions south of the border that created some of the economic and political reasons for refugees coming north has mostly gone unnoticed, invisible to most Americans. So many Americans feel they have no obligation to these refugees, and so it’s “easier to behave toward them in inhumane and callous fashion.”

White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, spoke out against immigrants and refugees who he feels will not assimilate to US society because of their low education and rural background. But as Nguyen went on to comment, his own mother was precisely the kind of person Kelly describes – born poor in a rural area, who had 6th-grade education! Yet, she was a heroic woman who worked hard and produced children who went on to Harvard. John Kelly’s own grandparents were Italian and Irish working-class labourers. And that has been the history of immigration in this country. Every wave of new immigrants has been greeted initially with suspicion and prejudice until after a generation or two.

The “boat people” who left Vietnam as refugees were in hindsight considered the “good” immigrants. Should the current refugees from the south be considered not “good”? Nguyen reminded Amanpour that the “oceanic refugees” (his substitute label for the “boat people”) had a 50% survival rate. And only 36% of the American people wanted to accept these refugees – even then! So perhaps not much has changed after all. People feared that the “boat people” would bring all sorts of problems and contamination to this country. But 40 years later, most Americans have forgotten the coming of the “boat people.” Even many Vietnamese themselves now oppose accepting new immigrants and refugees! With a smile on his face, Nguyen vouches for the fact that many of the Vietnamese refugees that he grew up with in California were pretty bad refugees, doing things like welfare cheating and scams and “much, much worse”! But they overcame. His point is not that immigrants or refugees are perfect, but given the opportunity they tend to succeed.

We all have a story; we’re all storytellers, Nguyen reminded me and other viewers of his interview; though most of us will never win a Pulitzer Prize like Nguyen did. But when Donald Trump says “Make America Great Again” he is telling a story in four words that is very seductive and powerful to many people, and they repeat that story, over dinner and in other settings. So those who believe in a story about an inclusive America, a welcoming America, an America that is about all kinds of people – it’s important to tell this other story, and make America love again! On that note, Mr. Nguyen ended his brief but illuminating interview with Christiane Amanpour.

I’m an immigrant myself – and not once, but twice! I emigrated to Canada in 1963, at the age of 10. And I became an immigrant to the US in 1983. After studying theology in New York (1980-83), I was offered a job by the Greek community in Astoria, New York, in 1983 to teach Chemistry and Physics at the St. Demetrios High School. I subsequently got married and that sealed my decision to stay in the United States. My experiences with immigration in both Canada and the US have been completely positive. I never experienced prejudice or suspicion in either country.

I received undergraduate and post-graduate education at Canada’s top three universities: McGill in Montréal, University of Toronto, and University of British Columbia in Vancouver. My two brothers had very little proclivity for academic work and preferred to have a good time. But both eventually settled to work for their own and for the family’s improvement. There were, to be sure, members of my extended clan who engaged in petty welfare fraud and took advantage of Canada’s very generous health and social support programs in ways that didn’t sit well with me. And there were one or two cousins who jumped ship in Halifax and entered the country illegally. But they became law-abiding productive members of Canadian society and eventually moved to the United States where they became successful businessmen. So certainly we were not all perfect immigrants, and I can relate a bit to what Mr. Nguyen was sharing about his own life among other refugees in California.

My family emigrated from Greece for economic reasons. We fled poverty to come to a country that offered opportunities to get ahead, to receive quality education, and live a mostly comfortable, but not luxurious, life. We were not political or war refugees.

Like Nguyen, I also am deeply saddened when I see fellow Greeks speak against immigrants today and support inhumane treatment of refugees and undocumented immigrants. How easily many of us forget where we came from, and why we came. When I see people who benefitted from the generosity of the United States – and even engaged in welfare fraud! – now promote anti-immigrant vitriol, it makes me angry. And I wonder whether such people have ever known the love of God in a personal way. People hear talk about the love of God in church gatherings, in Liturgy; they pay lip service to this love of God when it works to their own benefit. But they cannot see how this loving God might also be loving toward others not like us. And how this loving God may just be telling us to love others who are not like us.

I don’t know what religion Viet Thanh Nguyen subscribes to, if any. Did he become a Christian after his emigration to the United States? Is he a Buddhist, or an atheist? I don’t know. But hearing him raise the moral question today in the interview with Amanpour really hit the nail on the head. When “legality” takes precedence over morality, it is a very troubling matter for conscientious Christians. This is a moral question! And it disturbs me when I see millions of allegedly “evangelical” (that is, gospel-believing) Christians promote hatred toward people who are seeking a chance at a better life.

One of the greatest theologians the United States has produced was Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). In 1932 he published what became his most famous book, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics, in which he claimed that that people are more likely to sin as members of groups than as individuals. This was a very controversial idea at the time, though the imminent rise of Nazi fascism quickly put a stamp of reality on the book’s thesis. And unfortunately, what is happening today in many countries, including or especially our own, is clear proof of the group dynamics of much immoral and hateful attitudes. People who are pleasant, supportive and welcoming in their inter-personal behaviors can quickly become something else when immersing themselves in “fake news” or when they are surrounded by cheering true believers at political rallies.

The Judeo-Christian scriptures are clear; the behaviour and teachings of Jesus are clear! Perhaps I will give voice to some of the scriptures in a later post, but for now this present post has grown long enough. My point has been to raise the moral question. Though Nguyen and I have partly and necessarily addressed the present political situation, the attitudes that ignore the moral question extend beyond partisan politics and religion. Nguyen’s point that we are all storytellers is the challenge that hit me personally. What story am I writing in this moment of world history? What is the story we are all creating as a country, as a planetary culture? For how long will refugees and immigrants continue to be a moral problem?

Hannibal Hamlin, 15th Vice President of the United States

P.S. As I finished this post and prepared to publish it, a new episode in the PBS series American Experience came on. The title of the episode: “The Chinese Exclusion Act” – about an 1882 law aimed against Chinese coming to the United States. Worth searching on-demand or online. There were voices of dissent, but not enough to prevent Congress passing the law. Standout among the dissenters was Senator Hannibal Hamlin of Maine, who twenty years earlier had been Abraham Lincoln’s first vice-president, and was now chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On the floor of the Senate he denounced the Chinese Exclusion Actt: “I’m opposed to this. It violates fundamental American principles…I leave my vote, the last legacy to my children, that they may esteem it the brightest act of my life.” “This is a person with enormous moral authority,” the program narrator added. That is what we need today, persons with enormous moral authority.


A Community of God’s Spirit


Let’s start with an interesting contrast of biblical paradigms:

Exodus paradigm: Revolution →→ Revelation

Pentecost paradigm: Revelation →→ Revolution!

The Pentecost paradigm can be illustrated with these two passages from the New Testament.

Luke 6:12-19 == Prayer (Solitude) →→ Community →→ Ministry (Mission)

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

The events at Pentecost followed the same pattern.

Acts 2 == Prayer/Spirit →→ Community →→ Ministry & Mission

A Coptic icon for Pentecost. It’s a wonderful feature of Coptic icons to include women, in contrast to the more heavily or exclusively male presence in Byzantine icons.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability….

[Peter preached to people of many races in Jerusalem…] 

… So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Awe (φόβος) came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Can you see from that last paragraph why I speak of revolution?

Henri Nouwen wrote (in Bread for the Journey):

It is the Spirit who offers us the life that death cannot destroy.

God’s selfie. Baptism of Christ icon in our Holy Trinity church

Dynamic images for the Spirit – wind, cloud, fire, water – all essential to life. The dove? Ah, that was just God’s selfie – a one-time shot. Nothing more. The other images are the important ones!

So today we celebrate life. The life the Spirit gives. The life that is revolutionary. Pentecost is an invitation to join the revolution of God’s love and the love that we humans are capable of giving and sharing. Yes, we are capable, if we can just overcome the ease with which we fall into selfish and combative ways.

As the  Spirit hovered over the darkness that covered the earth at the beginning of time (Genesis 1:2), may the same Spirit move among us in the prayer and community of this day, and prepare us for new life.

A beautiful blessing that I found in the book Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. I slightly modified it so that instead of “the peace of the Lord Christ” I have “the Spirit of the Lord Christ.”

May the Spirit of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

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The Fire of Love


What a wonderful wedding yesterday. Wasn’t it? The pomp and pageantry of British royal tradition with a refreshing dose of American energy. Fabulous! And the African-American Episcopal bishop who gave the homily! And that gospel choir singing “Stand By Me”!

But that African-American bishop, he spoke of love – as one would expect at a wedding. But he didn’t speak of love in the trite, sentimental ways that we expect to hear at a wedding service. He brought fire into that wedding service – the fire of Christ’s love. The Archbishop of Canterbury was seated right behind him as he delivered his homily. He sat very still, and probably saying to himself, “Why can’t I deliver a sermon like this?” But he can’t; he’s British and he’s high Anglican. And let me tell you why that thought entered my mind about the Archbishop of Canterbury. It’s because that’s what I was thinking. Why can’t I preach like a black preacher? Because I’m not black. I’m Greek and I’m Orthodox, and I’m boring. I’m supposed to be boring!

The good African-American bishop spoke of love, spoke with love, spoke love. He spoke of love as fire. He spoke of love as redeeming. He spoke of love of God and love of neighbor. He spoke of a love that if it were to exist, there would be no wars; there would be no poverty; no hunger. When love is the way, there would be justice and righteousness for all. “When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary,” he said. He spoke the love that Jesus brought into the world. The transcript of Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon can be read here.

Love is everywhere in the Bible. As examples, here are passages in the writings of John in the New Testament.

John 13:1  Having loved his own, he loved them to the end – εἰς τέλος ἠγάπησεν αὐτούς – to the maximum, to perfection.

John 15:12  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

John 13:34-35   “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this all people (πάντες) will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Do you hear that last sentence? Is that why there is no peace, no justice or righteousness in the world? Because the world does not see love even in the lives of the followers of Jesus?

1 John 3:16  We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.

1 John 4:8  Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:19-21  We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

But who is my brother or sister? you might ask. You really want to ask that question of Jesus? You know what his answer is going to be. Just like he answered the rich man’s question, “Who is my neighbor?”

This is why love is fire. And this is why the fiery American preacher was right on yesterday at that royal wedding. Half the congregation probably didn’t quite know what to do with him. They don’t hear sermons like that in high Anglican churches. They got a bit of a taste of American fiery preaching. And we need some preaching like that to shake us out of our own rut and our own satisfaction with ourselves and our holy tradition and our sense of entitlement. 

Jesus ascended. He carried with him every human experience, everything that makes us human. He carried with him to heaven every human race, every form of human existence. That’s how great God’s love is for humanity. What do we do with that love? Fly flags at half mast? Pray with trite words while doing nothing to prevent the killing of our children? Is that the extent of our love? Where is the fire? Next week, on Pentecost, we will hear of how the Holy Spirit came down on the first disciples after Jesus ascended. And the Holy Spirit came down as fire. Jesus carried our shared humanity to heaven so he can send down fire – the fire that makes the world new, the fire that brings the new heaven and the new earth. That is the dream. That is the fire of love.

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Another School Shooting…More Hypocritical Prayers

In the wake of today’s school shooting in Texas, Ted Cruz, senator from Texas, appeared before the cameras, as politicians do in order to fool voters into thinking that they care about anyone or anything. So Mr. Cruz is talking about the newest shooting and as he links it to other recent shootings and tragedies in other communities in his home state – the great gun-toting state of Texas – he starts talking about how in these communities people have been “leaning” on each other and praying… And at that point I cursed Mr. Cruz under my breath and I turned off the television to avoid listening to any more hypocritical nonsense. It’s almost as if Mr. Cruz was trying to say: Look how much good comes out of these tragedies. Communities come together, people lean on each other, pray for each other, comfort each other… Yes, Mr. Cruz, communities and people do come together. But why should it take the killing of children to do this? (And let’s face it, even then it only lasts a day or two, or a week, or a month. Then it’s back to looking out for number one.) Why can’t communities come together to create a society that is less death-obsessed and death-worshipping?

Here is what I want to say to Mr. Cruz and every other politician who immediately invokes prayers when a tragedy occurs, especially whenever a school shooting shocks us for a day or two. Have these politicians ever really read the Bible? I mean really read the Bible – not just the select verses they hear week after week in their comfortable, plush evangelical mega churches? If they read their Bibles they would be a little more cautious about how often they invoke prayer in responding to school shootings. Here is what God has to say about prayers. And God says this in the first chapter of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. And yes, better believe that there is more in Isaiah than “a virgin shall conceive”! Here is what God has to say about prayers:

When you stretch out your hands,
    I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
    I will not listen;
    your hands are full of blood.
 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your doings
    from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
     learn to do good;
seek justice,
    rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
    plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1:15-17)

Does God listen to the prayers of politicians and their supporters whose “hands are full of blood”? When are their hands full of blood? When they do not care for the oppressed and the poor; when they worship at the altar of the NRA.

I know that stricter gun laws will not solve the problem of school shootings. Our society has gone too far into inhuman ways. School shootings are just part of an overall picture of ungodly living: extreme wealth and extreme poverty, war industries, environmental destruction, racism and bigotry, abortion, drugs…

There are no single or simple solutions. But let’s start with our churches. Do we promote social justice? Do we challenge politicians to really do the things that God desires? (And I don’t mean Christian versions of sharia law, which is what evangelical conservatives want.) Do we really preach the gospel or only nice messages to pamper the pampered? Do we comfort the uncomforted and discomfort the comfortable? These are the criteria by which God judges churches – not by what Creed we recite or how we baptize or which patriarchate is number one.

If churches that call themselves Christian really believed the gospel of Jesus Christ and really read the prophets complete, they would have an impact on a society such as ours. But churches and church leaders are cowards. I’m sure the president will ask for a period of mourning and flags at half mast. What God said to ancient Israel applies to us too:

Bringing offerings is futile;
    incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation—
    I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity.
Your new moons and your appointed festivals (and flags at half mast?)
    my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me,
    I am weary of bearing them. (Isaiah 1:13-14)

How the faithful city
    has become a whore!
    She that was full of justice,
righteousness lodged in her—
    but now murderers!
Your silver has become dross,
    your wine is mixed with water.
Your princes are rebels
    and companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe
    and runs after gifts.
They do not defend the orphan,
    and the widow’s cause does not come before them. (Isaiah 1:21-23)

And lest you think that Isaiah had a mental or psychotic problem and put these words in God’s mouth, here is another prophet, Amos. God again is the speaker:

I hate, I despise your festivals,
    and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
    I will not look upon.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
    I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
But let justice roll down like waters,
    and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:21-24)

Do not mistake God’s idea of “justice” with our ideas of justice. God’s idea of justice is the just treatment of the poor, the outcasts, the oppressed, the widows and the orphans and the homeless, and the refugees – in other words, precisely the victims of our forms of “justice”!

Will God listen to the prayers of a Ted Cruz or a Donald Trump, of the communities that suffer tragedies? I hope God will. But God will also not ignore or forget the words he spoke 2,700 years ago through the mouth of Isaiah or Amos. And he speaks them today as well, in the pages of what Mr. Cruz calls the Holy Bible.


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Naomi & Ruth – Two Mothers for Today


There are many mothers in the Bible, but few that feel contemporary to us. I offer to you today on this Mother’s Day, the Book of Ruth in the “Old” Testament. A marvelous, short book, with a beautiful story of two women, Naomi and Ruth; a story that we can relate to. I will only focus on the highlights of the story.

In the days after the Jews had settled in Canaan [perhaps around the year 1,200 BC], there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. [Moabites were detested by Jews.] The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

Then Naomi decided to return to her homeland. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house. [Very striking in a patriarchal society – instead of the usual “father’s house.”] May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” [Orpah did go back], but Ruth clung to her. Naomi said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”

But Ruth replied with some of the most famous words in the entire Bible:

“Don’t press me to leave you. For where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried. May the Lord deal with me severely, if even death parts me from you!”

So Naomi returned home together with Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law. They came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.

Ruth went to work in the field belonging to a man called Boaz. Boaz looks kindly on Ruth. “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. May the Lord reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!” [Recognition of Ruth’s faithfulness – followed by blessing.]

With a little coaching from Naomi, Ruth and Boaz marry. Ruth bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without [a redeemer]; and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Note how the story ends. It ends well for Ruth, and she became the great-grandmother of David, the King. And thus Ruth entered the genealogy of Jesus that we read every year on the Sunday before Christmas. A Moabite, a foreigner, in the genealogy of the Messiah! But it also ends well for Naomi. The people bless her. She has been redeemed from her bitterness and poverty, from the emptiness of her life. Ruth’s faithfulness became the means by which God reversed the outcome of Naomi’s life. Never underestimate what you do for your mother or your mother-in-law! God’s purpose is always what the Hebrew Bible calls ḥesed, loving kindness. This is God’s covenant kindness/love. Even when Naomi told the two daughters-in-law to return home she prayed that the Lord will show them ḥesed regardless of their return to Moabite homes.

God uses Ruth, the outsider, the foreigner, to turn around the life of Naomi. The Moabites were rejected by the Jews – just as the Samaritans that Jesus used as models in his ministry! Naomi and her husband did not stop their sons from marrying Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Tolerance, inclusion – values that every parent, especially every mother must teach her children. 

Naomi, model mother and grandmother:

  • In her bitterness, as a widow and both sons dead, she did not stop blessing and recognizing the presence of God in her life and in the life of her foreign daughters-in-law.
  • An agent of God’s ḥesed, loving-kindness. Mothers are central to God’s covenant with humanity. Never underestimate your role in God’s plan.
  • Do not place burdens on your children and their spouses. Let them respond to your faithfulness with their own faithfulness.
  • Teach and demonstrate inclusive love, acceptance of others, of those who are different. 
  • Encouraging, positive. 
  • Teach your children well, as the CSN song put it back in 1970.
  • Teach your children well, and they will honor you. They will be faithful, as Ruth was to Naomi. Let every day be Mother’s Day!


Conversation at the Core of Life


A Gospel reading of contrasts

Jesus in John’s Gospel is identified as Creator and life-giver – The Logos: All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. In him was life and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:1-5).

Jesus’ thirst was the incentive for the conversation! Was he only thirsty for water? Wasn’t he also thirsty for human interaction, conversation? Isn’t that God’s basic longing? Isn’t that part of why Jesus is the Logos? Why the Bible is the word of God, but also the word of man?

  • Jesus speaks of spiritual thirst – the woman speaks of literal thirst. Another contrast? Or, rather just two sides of the same basic human craving. The well was a place of conversation in that part of the world – especially for women. Water is essential to life. So is conversation! And I don’t mean texting. 

The woman switches the subject to religion. Who is right? We Samaritans or you Jews? Where is the proper place to worship God? Here on our mountain or in Jerusalem? Jesus’ answer is shocking: No place – not yours, not ours. We must worship God in spirit and truth.

The woman is not convinced – this is too advanced for her, too radical, so she finds a way out: “When Messiah comes, he will reveal all things to us.” Which draws a momentous self-revelation from Jesus: I AM, εγώ ειμι. Jesus habitually resisted identifying himself as Messiah – but he does to this Samaritan woman, a woman not of his own religion.

A story in yesterday’s Guardian newspaper told of two native-American teenagers signed up for a tour of Colorado State University. One mother called the police because they looked like “they don’t belong.” She said they were quiet and “creepy” and “really stand out.” “They don’t belong” – that’s what Jews thought of Samaritans, and vice versa. That’s what many Christians today think of people who don’t look like us. 

What was that line by Rabbi Sacks last week? God asks us to see His image in one who is not in my image. If we worship God in spirit and truth, we don’t see differences. We see the image of God. We see the life-giver Christ, we see the Logos who gave life to all people.