Thought for the Week – 6 May

25 years ago I went back to work, my children all then going to school, I hadn’t been in the work place for 15 years. I started work at the Hallamshire Hospital as a venous phlebotomist, I took blood from peoples veins. This was something that I had done in the past as part of my job and this fitted in nicely with the children being at school. My previous job had been mostly laboratory work but this was very much front line with patient contact.
We are all very familiar with the term PPE at the moment, Personal Protective Equipment. Well at that time the diseases I most needed to protect myself against were Hepatitis B and HIV. It wasn’t the hospitals policy to tell us if someone had one of these diseases, we were expected to assume everyone could have them and act accordingly. We were to wear gloves and an apron over our uniform. However, sometimes we were made
aware of a persons having got one of these things or a higher than usual chance of having contracted them.
The first time I had to go into a room of a known drug addict I made a judgement that I’m not very proud off. First I wasn’t happy that this woman should be putting the staff at potential risk because of her choice of life style. I wondered if she might be a bit rough, violent, angry and hard to approach, dirty even. I had no experience of such a person other
than a negative impression through the media and such things.
What did I find? I found a young, well spoken, attractive young woman and new mother who, was very apologetic that she might be putting me at risk while taking her blood. She was, it transpired desperate to turn her life around. As often happened when I was sat at someone’s bedside over the weeks, she started to tell me her situation. The worst she had done I gathered was to have made bad choices.
As the years went on I met many people who I believe were not ‘bad’ people’, they had often made bad choices and all they needed was the chance to change their lives around.
In John 4:3-26 we read the account of Jesus meeting a woman at a well at noon while passing through Samaria. Compare Jesus approach to this to mine above. People usually fetched water in the cool of the evening not at noon. To anyone else that would have been a sign that this woman was maybe trying to keep to herself. Of course Jesus already knew her situation. She is totally thrown by him asking her for water. A Jew would not normally associate with a Samaritan, let alone make themselves unclean by taking a drink from them. They then go on to have a conversation about ‘living water’. Jesus is, I think, impressed by her conversation, she is obviously intelligent. He is also I believe impressed by her truthfulness. Jesus asks her to call her husband and come back. The woman admits to her situation of having no husband and having had five and now living with a man out of wedlock.
This woman, has it would seem, made some bad choice in her life. The Jews said that a woman might be divorced twice, at the most three times so if Samaritans had the same standards she would be classed as a very immoral woman. Jesus would have had every excuse to not give this woman the time of day let alone speak to her and furthermore speak to her on religious matters and practices. Jesus didn’t prejudge this person even though he knew her character. As a woman, a Samaritan and with an immoral life he spoke to her and offered her an insight into the ‘living water’ that is available to all. He saw her as one of Gods children who could be saved.
Things to think about;
 How do you feel and react when you come into contact with those on the edge of society, or whom you don’t understand, or who’s views you believe are different to yours?
 What things might stop you from reaching out to help others? Are there barriers that you are aware of that need to be broken down? e.g. lack of true understanding of their situation. If so what do you need to do to enable you to reach out effectively?
 Does our church do anything to help those on the edge of society, those we see as different? If so how, and is there more that we could do to make this situation better?

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