Feelings….

By Rhonda Compise

My family upbringing was rather stoic. I was raised in the day of “stop crying or I will give you something to cry about!” When I read the Bible as a young person, I was very impressed by all the heroes of the faith who overcame their feelings and chose to have faith in God. Paul was beaten, imprisoned, and once left for dead. He was a man who had to deal with a lot of negative feelings, but he did not allow them to hinder him from pursuing Christ. In my young spiritual mind, I somehow got the notion that feelings were merely something that I should overcome.

When the new AB Women’s Ministries 2017-2019 theme of “Feel/Siente” was announced, I was surprised! My first inclination was that feelings had nothing to do with spirituality. I could really relate to the song “Feelings” by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil: “Feelings, nothing more than feelings….” I thought, “Why do we even have feelings?”

I began to search scripture for “feeling” words. The scripture that constantly resonated in my thoughts was Nehemiah 8:10, “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Joy is a feeling worth having! And yes, I have experienced that joy and strength. And no, it was not just positive affirmation. I experienced joy as a spiritual event. This verse helped me to understand that feelings are spiritual.

My research of scripture revealed that God has feelings. Two examples from the Old Testament are Genesis 6:6, which says that God was sorry, and grieved. Psalm 145:8 says that, “The LORD is… full of compassion, slow to anger…” And there is the familiar New Testament verse in John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” Throughout the Bible, I saw that feelings are a part of the nature of God. In the New Testament we see feelings expressed by Jesus. These expressions of feelings help us understand why God acts in the way that God does. God’s compassion results in God being slow to anger. The tears of compassion from Jesus help us understand why he raised Lazarus from the dead.

Today we can see actions resulting from feelings on the news every day in response to the recent Hurricane Harvey. Individuals from all over the country are taking action in response to their feelings of compassion for those who have been displaced. Now I am excited about exploring the connections between feeling and acting as a part of our spiritual life and service. I am praying for growth as we study our new theme “Feel/Siente.”

Rhonda Compise is president of American Baptist Women’s Ministries of the Indiana/Kentucky region.

 

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The Woman at the Well: To Be Known

By Yana Pagan

Based on John 4:5-30

The 2017-2019 ministry focus of American Baptist Women’s Ministries is “Feel/Siente.” Information about the theme, based on Luke 8:43-49, Acts 17:27-28 (NLT), and 1 Samuel 2:1-11 (The Voice), may be found at www.abwministries.org/theme. This post is part of a series of “Herstories” from American Baptist women around this theme.

He, Qi. Jesus and the Samaritan Woman, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=46094 [retrieved June 5, 2017]. Original source: heqigallery.com.

It was almost time to leave. She gathered her things and made the journey in the heat of the day. Yes, usually people avoided traveling then, but she did it to avoid the whispers and stares; dealing with the heat was easier than dealing with that. Frankly, anything was better than the gossip at the well. The well was an important resource for all of life’s daily chores and could not be avoided. Yet, as she got closer, she saw that there was someone there. During the hottest part of the day was an unusual time to be at the well: She wondered if he was injured.

There was a part of her that was in no mood for this today. She’d had another fight with her significant other and was wondering if men were worth the trouble after all. She was tired of being treated like nothing; she knew there had to be someone out there who knew her worth. She wasn’t crazy for still expecting someone to treat her with the respect that her father had. She was engrossed in her thoughts as she walked, so she was startled by this man at the well asking her for a drink of water.

The woman was caught off-guard. This man was a Jew. A Jew—speaking to her, a Samaritan! His eyes pierced into hers and she felt noticed as he asked her again for a drink of water.

Let us remember she was trying to go unnoticed. But Jesus did not see her the way others saw her.

Isn’t it weird how there are people who can see you in a way that no one else sees you? Some people look past us, or through us, but never see the real people we are. That real seeing is what we need to feel noticed, loved, wanted; it helps us to care for ourselves and others. This is where our body images come into play. Some people think if they see your physical form, they know you. But there is so much more to a person, especially to a woman.

As the conversation between Jesus (who, as we know now, is the man sitting at the well) and the Samaritan woman ensues, the Samaritan woman tells Jesus she has no husband. Jesus responds, “That is right, and the one you have now is not your husband,” (John 4:17). Jesus is reminding the woman that the five men she has been with will never fill the void but, he goes on to say, “I know you.”

I have always enjoyed the passage, both what we know and what we can only imagine of this text. This unnamed woman at the well is bold questioning Jesus. She, a Samaritan, is courageous, while he is tired but still sharp. She knew he was not supposed to talk to her and yet he provides her with a dialogue that truly sees her. She feels known in such a way that her life is changed forever; she leaves everything behind. She becomes the good news incarnate and says to all she meets, “Come, meet a man who told me everything I have ever done and loves me!” And people believed because of her. What a testimony!

Questions for reflection:

  • What dialogue do the Lord and you honestly need to have?
  • Is there something you need the Lord to notice in your life or ministry?
  • How do you most need to feel loved by Jesus Christ?

Rev. Yana J.C. Pagan is ordained American Baptist clergy serving as pastor at Gulph United Church of Christ and faculty at Esperanza College of Eastern University.