Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor, in her book, Leaving Church, writes: “Salvation is a word for the divine spaciousness that comes to human beings in all the tight places where their lives are at risk, regardless of how they got there or whether they know God’s name. Sometimes it comes as an extended human hand and sometimes as a bolt from the blue, but either way it opens a door in what looked for all the world like a wall. This is the way of life, and God alone knows how it works...”
Jesus’ disciples arrive back at the well with their take-out lunch just as his conversation with the woman ends, but not without some uneasy looking askance that Jesus is talking with...my God, a woman...and a Samaritan woman, at that! None of them, however, dares to utter a word about the “elephant in the room”. The woman quietly exits, leaving her jar at the well, as John takes pains to point out. Why is that?
“...God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe...we proclaim Christ crucified...Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God...God is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom...and righteousness and sanctification and redemption...these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit...so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom, but taught by the Spirit...”
“Sometimes [salvation] comes as an extended hand and sometimes as a bolt from the blue, but either way it opens a door in what looked for all the world like a wall. This is the way of life, and God alone knows how it works...”
Barbara Brown Taylor says that she was asked this question when she was invited to speak at a church gathering. Perhaps Barbara’s words in commenting on this could help providing a clue for us as to how you and I might discern an answer for ourselves in the week ahead:
“...Although we might use different words to describe it, most of us know what is killing us. For some it is the deadly rush of our lives; for others it is the inability to move. For some it is the prison of our possessions; for others the crushing poverty that dooms our children to more of the same. Few of us can choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we respond to them. To be saved is not only to recognize an alternative to the deadliness pressing down upon us but also to be able to act upon it...”