My grandmother was the kind of woman who called people by their name if they were wearing a nametag on their uniform. I asked her about this one hot summer day as she was getting gas in the car. It was during the time when gas station attendants washed windows, checked the oil, and filled the tank with only one type of gas. Yes, I’m that old. But I remember Grammie saying “Thank you, Mike (or whatever his name was). I appreciate your work.” and telling me it is important to recognize people and call them by name when you know it.
Many years later a friend of mine shared that her brother, a car mechanic, had a customer with a BMW who commented on his name tag. The customer, who had been a classmate of the mechanic, mocked him for having a job with a uniform bearing his name, indicating that his work was less important than the BMW driver. The mechanic replied with a smirk, “You know I’m working on your car, right?”
Status has a place in our world and seems to become more evident as the economic disparity grows. The conversation about those who have less seems to be more extensive during election cycles. During campaign speeches politicians will often talk about how they are going to fix economic disparity while they spend millions on their campaigns. They speak as if they fully understand the situation, but until they truly invest time with those who are on the margins, they probably won’t fully understand who the people are and what they really need.
Thankfully, Jesus took time to travel the road of the homeless and live without a steady income stream. Jesus was shunned, stopped, harassed, and physically abused by the religious leaders and politicians in his day. And Jesus is the one who gives us the model of loving the neighbor and offering them life. We will explore part of his journey as we read about Jesus’s encounter with a Samaritan woman at the community well, as written in John 14:5-26. I hope you’ll meet me on Sunday as we share their story.