Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Vibe of the Samaritan Woman

The Samaritan Woman begins her story with the vibe of the town tramp. No doubt ostracised by the other local women who fetch water early in the morning, she heads to the well in the heat of the day. When she arrives, she finds Jesus having a rest on his way home to Galilee. Jesus asks the woman for a drink and she is shocked that he is even talking to her – the Jews consider the Samaritans impure and dirty. Jesus then speaks in riddles to the woman, explaining to her that he can offer her water that will mean she will never be thirsty again. When she asks for some of this miracle water, Jesus asks her to go and fetch her husband and she has to admit that she doesn’t have one. When Jesus tells her that he knows all about her, that she has no husband and that she has already been married five times, she realises he is no ordinary thirsty traveller. And when he finally tells her that he is the Messiah, she hurries off to tell the rest of the town, many of whom become followers of Jesus. The Samaritan Woman is yet another in a long line of seriously flawed people who God picks out to spread his message. And it’s a clear one: Christianity isn’t a faith for the religious leaders or the establishment, it is for the people. Triumphant vibes with a full bucket of water attached.

General vibe of the Samaritan Woman: Ordinary woman meets God at a well

Factvibe: The well can still be found near the site of the ancient Canaanite city, Tell Balata on the Palestinian West Bank

A bucket of water. But not any old water. This, friends, is the water of life

A bucket of water. But not any old water. This, friends, is the water of life

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The Vibe of the Samaritans

The Samaritans vibe begins for real in 722BC when the Northern Kingdom of Israel falls to the enemy Assyrians. The northern Jews intermarry with the Assyrians and any other waifs and strays who settle there and are forever seen as impure by their southern cousins. In fact, the Samaritans are among the spoilers who don’t want Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem after the Jews come home from their exile in Babylon. In New Testament times, the Samaritans are properly despised by the Jews and are seen as an enemy state. Samaria debuts in a story told by Luke where Jesus heals ten lepers on the border of Samaria and Galilee. The lepers have no doubt been pushed away to the very edge of Israel because, in the eyes of their fellow Jews, they are almost as dirty as their Samaritan neighbours. The story of the Good Samaritan is shocking to the followers of Jesus simply because it is a hated Samaritan who saves the day. Samaria is midway between Galilee and Jerusalem and although most Jews make a detour, Jesus sees all people as equal and is happy to pass through. On one trip, he meets a woman at a well and introduces himself as the Messiah whilst telling her secrets about herself that he couldn’t possibly know. The woman hurries off to spread the news amongst her fellow Samaritans and Jesus’ work is done.

General vibe of the Samaritans: Those dirty people next door

Factvibe: The first Samaritans hotline opened in St Stephen Walbrook Church in London in 1953

The early Samaritans didn't wait for one of these to ring. They were too busy making a nuisance of themselves.

The early Samaritans didn’t wait for one of these to ring. They were too busy making a nuisance of themselves.

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The Vibe of the Queen of Sheba

The Queen of Sheba only makes one entrance in the Bible but it is certainly a spectacular one. Embarking on perhaps the grandest trade mission ever imagined, the Queen and her retinue travel almost two thousand miles from the south of the Arabian peninsular to Jerusalem bearing some of the most fabulous gifts ever given to one monarch by another. The vibe of the Queen of Sheba’s journey is that she wants to check out King Solomon to see whether he is a friend or a threat, hence the gifts. The Queen brings gold, spices, precious stones and cedar wood in the kind of quantities that the world had never seen, and perhaps never will again. Despite being staggeringly wealthy herself, the Queen finds Solomon’s palace overwhelming. The heady mix of the building’s scale and opulence, the catering, Solomon’s abundance of impeccably turned out staff, his sacrificial offerings and immense wisdom all conspire to convince the Queen that God is most definitely on his side. Solomon then packs the Queen’s ships with gifts of his own and she sails back to Sheba, her head no doubt still spinning.

General vibe of the Queen of Sheba: Royal visit

Factvibe: The amount of gold brought by the Queen of Sheba to Solomon would have weighed around four metric tonnes.

Spice, a vibe popular among kings and queens a long tome ago

Spice, a vibe popular among kings and queens a long tome ago