On water and neighbors

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February 26, 2018

Each year, Jane and Max Carter “lead a Living Letters delegation under the sponsorship of Friends United Meeting to Palestine and Israel,” where they serve “at the Friends schools and meeting in Ramallah, Israeli-Occupied West Bank.” This last summer, Max accompanied a friend of his, “Natan, a Jewish settler, into Ramallah for a day.” Every day this week in Fruit of the Vine, Max writes about that experience with Natan in Ramallah.

In this morning’s reflection, Max helps Natan “to distinguish Palestinian homes from Jewish settlements. ‘It’s the water tanks on the roof – Palestinian use of water is strictly limited by the military occupation. Most communities receive water only once or twice a week, and they store it in the tanks.’” Because Natan had lived “in the occupied West Bank for twenty years with unlimited water,” it is hard for him to imagine the hardship of his neighbors.

I think the same is true for us. We are intimately acquainted with our own suffering, yet it is hard for us to see or imagine the suffering endured by our neighbors. This is part of the miracle in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan in Jesus’ story sees the man who has been attacked by robbers, stripped of his clothes, beaten and left for dead. And he responds.

Max offers an additional challenge for us, referencing a passage in the fourth chapter of John. This is the account of Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman, a woman who, according to Max, “could have as much water as she could carry home” (unlike today’s Palestinians). On the other hand the “Samaritans were the ‘other’ people, considered so defiled that many Jews would walk miles around Samaritan territory on their journey rather than pollute their feet with Samaritan dust.” But Jesus didn’t see her this way. “He saw her as someone deserving of living water.”

Can we do the same? Might we – recognizing the blessings we have received – share with those in need? Might we also learn to see those in need as people deserving of whatever help we can offer?

I’m praying that God might do this work in each of us, and I’m praying that God might do this work in me.

Thank you,
Eric Muhr

P.S. In this tenuous year of transition, Barclay Press must raise $25,000 in order to remain a going concern. So far this year, we’ve received $5,975 in donations and $2,700 in pledges, getting us 35 percent of the way to where we need to be by the end of the year. Thank you for your continuing prayer, for your words of encouragement, and for your support!


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