Summary: This sermon is based upon Mike Yaconelli’s book "Messy Spirituality and is designed to convince Seekers that God wants our Nitty and Gritty lives
June 1 & 2, 2002
“Nitty Gritty …Meet Who I Was!”
Prairie View A & M University, located in Bryn, Texas, was founded in 1876 as a technical school for blacks in the then segregated Texas education system. It is the second oldest institution of higher learning in the state of Texas. In the fall of 1989 the, the university opened it’s doors for it’s 113th incoming freshman class. Now I am not sure whether the number 113 is supposed to be as unlucky as the number 13 but what began that year will probably be unmatched in NCAA history. When the Prairie View Panthers took the field that year in football they began a nine-year slide into infamy. Over the course of those nine years, Prairie View lost a total of 80 football games in a row. They were outscored in those years by a total of 2300 points. No one expected such a losing streak to occur. In fact, during those nine years, they went thru four different coaches trying to find a winning formula. The losing streak ended, mercifully on September 26, 1998 when the Panthers defeated Langston Oklahoma by a score of fourteen to twelve. (14- 12) Prairie View went onto a stellar one and ten season in 1989. (1-10)
It is interesting to note that the Prairie View A & M University website has an article on their web page headlined thus, “Coach Dorsey works to bring Prairie View Football back to respectability.” The article was published at the close of this past year’s football season in which Prairie View finished the season with a near perfect one and ten record. The article notes that Prairie View did beat it’s first conference rival since, you guessed it 1989 the year the streak started. The beat Alcorn State in early October by the welcome and historic score of fourteen to twelve. (14-12)
Or how about the pitcher who became known baseball trivia fans as the “man who was born to lose.” His name was Hugh Mulcahy, who hurled (no pun intended) for the hopeless Philadelphia Phillies more than fifty years ago. The 6’ 2” right-hander’s name appeared as losing pitcher 76 times from 1937-1940. Mulcahy disliked the nickname losing pitcher so badly that he actually quit baseball after the 1940 season to join the army. In October of the following year, Mulcahy was transferred to a little known but strategic army base in a far-flung island chain where he witnessed what has been described as the greatest loss in U.S. military history. This guy just couldn’t get away from a loss. You may have guessed the location of his duty station and military the loss, the station was Oahu, Hawaii and the loss was…Pearl Harbor.
The central character of our scripture passage today had a pretty good losing streak of her own going. As we read in our scripture passage today from the fourth chapter of John, the Samaritan woman gives new meaning to the term Nitty Gritty. Talk about a loser. When it comes to immorality this woman is a pro. When she bumps into the Son of God, her losing streak might suggest that she is as far from God as any person could be. But, if you read the balance of this story you will notice that this woman understood religion very well. She is astute in matters of religion, Messiahs, prophets. She probably knew men very well and when Jesus speaks to her, and she knew he wasn’t supposed to, she responds the way any worldly savvy woman does with what looks like a pick-up line to her. Listen to verses ten and eleven again.
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep.”
“How about a drink gorgeous? My you have pretty eyes.” “Yeah and they can see the line of bovine scatology that you are about to toss my way.”
I am sure that she had been a tackling dummy for many religious persons of her day. Who she was, was so large in her eyes and her Nitty Gritty loomed so big that she probably had concluded that her life was scarred beyond hope. Her bad choices had made her unredeemable, unsalvageable, maybe even unteachable. After all, she had looked for love in all the wrong places, looked for love in too many faces. She had had five husbands and was living with a sixth man. Here she is though, about to be introduced to a seventh and seven is the perfect number in theology. She had fumbled around a lifetime looking for the perfect man, what she really had been fumbling around for was God and here the seventh man, a perfect man, stands before her…Jesus, the Son of God. Her losing streak is about to end. Friends, yours can too.