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Jesus Held Space

“Will you give me a drink?” asked Jesus of the Samaritan woman. This story found in John 4:7-26 illustrates Jesus’ deep love for all women even those rejected by mainstream society. In this story, a Samaritan woman is at the well with Jesus, about to draw water for herself. Jesus asks her to get him a drink. Shocked at his request because Samaritans  and Jews didn’t mix, a conversation ensues.

 Jesus continued in redemptive conversation,  telling her about the importance of the living water, which is offered to absolutely everyone. Here Jesus humbly holds space for her and makes space for a woman who was  different from his cultural and social background.   

In this beautiful conversation in John’s gospel, Jesus not only breaks the rules of social engagement, but he invites the Samaritan woman to nourish him. He asks her for water. He takes the time to affirm a  place for her in God’s kingdom through this simple gesture. Jesus’s actions affirms inclusivity because of how his actions challenged and stretched the social boundaries in place. I hear Jesus’ question as an invitation to listen. I hear it as a request to hold space for people whose voices aren’t heard in our church circles. I hear it as a request to be intentional about building community outside our churches. 

Jesus invites the Samaritan woman to nourish him. He asks her for water.

In our traditional and conventional worship practice in CRC churches, we hold space for Christians. It means that we gather collectively in Jesus’ name. During the service, we also praise, confess, and hear encouragement via the word. In other words, we hold space in our lives for Jesus. We are intentional and ritualistic about it. Imagine what would happen if we could be intentional and ritualistic about holding space for marginalized voices in our nation such as missing and murdered indigenous women and girls’ voices?

In 2015, Canada launched a national inquiry to collect testimonies from the families of MMIWG and it just published the final 1,200 page report on June 3rd, 2019. One of the commissioners in the National Inquiry, Qajaq Robinson, commented on the report, “It’s the truth,” she said. “It’s our truth, it’s my truth, it’s your truth.” 

Further, in the final report of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission call to action #59 was directed to churches, “We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement to develop ongoing education strategies to ensure that their respective congregations learn about their church’s role in colonization, the history and legacy of residential schools, and why apologies to former residential school students, their families, and communities were necessary.”  

 I could hear the urgent cry for holding space

We now have two huge reports urging us as citizens of Canada and of God’s kingdom to not turn away from the conversations at the well. That takes courage. That takes empathy. That takes being silent and listening. The actions are what holding space is about, just as Jesus held space for the Samaritan woman at the well.  Through these reports, I could hear Jesus’ words, “will you give me a drink?” I could hear the urgent cry for holding space; engaging, listening, actively empathising, with people beyond our church walls. 

Can we be bold and brave enough to bridge church communities and our neighbourhoods?  To start conversations with vulnerability and openness by being the ones to say, “Will you give me a drink?” Let’s follow Jesus’ example of building relationships.  Let’s be like Jesus by the well.    



Photo courtsey of Priya Andrade


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