January 11, 2022

Tear Down our Walls

John 4:4-10, 27-30, 39-42

“You [Jesus] are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans).

—  John 4:9

U.S. President Ronald Reagan may best be remembered for his Berlin Wall speech. In 1987, standing near the wall that separated East Berlin from West Berlin, Reagan made this appeal to Russia’s General Secretary: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

Today’s story tells us that Jesus went through Samaria, that he came near the town of Sychar, that he was tired, that he sat down by a famous well, and that a Samaritan woman came to draw water. A huge, centuries-old wall was there too. It was invisible, yet everyone knew it was there—between Jews and Samaritans.

Jesus tore down this wall. When he spoke to the Samaritan woman, she couldn’t believe it: “How can you ask me for a drink?” She wasn’t saying, “How dare you?” but “Why would you reach out to me?”

When Jesus’ disciples returned, they were surprised too! Not just that he was talking to a woman, but to a Samaritan!

Meanwhile, the woman went back to town to tell her neighbors about the wall-breaker: “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did.” Her neighbors followed her to meet Jesus for themselves. And when they invited Jesus to visit with them, he did! That’s what good neighbors do.

Thank you, Jesus, for show­ing us how to be neighborly. Give us the love and the courage to break down old walls, make new neighbors, and love them in your name. Amen. (AM)

About the author — Al Mulder and Bonny Mulder-Behnia

Al Mulder served as a church pastor in Kansas, Utah, and New Mexico and in ministry roles with denominational missions in North America. He is a member of Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Al and Joanna Meyer, both widowed, married in 2020. Together they have eight children, 19 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren.

Bonny Mulder-Behnia began work in ministry after a career in journalism. While serving on staff at Madison Square Church, Grand Rapids, and later at Rosewood Church in Bellflower, Calif., she completed seminary training and is now a copastor at Rosewood Church. Bonny is married to Jahangir Behnia and has two children and one grandchild.

As father and daughter, Al and Bonny have a shared passion for multicultural ministry. Their initials (AM and BMB) indicate which meditations they have written for the month of January.

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