Open the Windows and Doors to the Autumn Air

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S (Scripture): John 4:19 The [Samaritan] woman said [to Jesus], “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you and your people say that it is necessary to worship in Jerusalem.”

21 Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you and your people will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You and your people worship what you don’t know; we worship what we know because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—and is here!—when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth. The Father looks for those who worship him this way. 24 God is spirit, and it is necessary to worship God in spirit and truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us.”

26 Jesus said to her, “I Am—the one who speaks with you.”

O (Observation): Usually this story of the Samaritan Woman at the Well draws me into Jesus’ witness of crossing boundaries for the sake of the Gospel. And indeed, this does occur. And yet, a new thing has caught my attention in my reading of this lesson today.

Worship.

Where does it happen? The Temple, of course!

Of all the things she wonders about, worship (and where to worship) is important to her.

Jesus opens up the expanse of proper worship. Worship is not about a place, but an orientation towards something. In this case, the orientation is towards truth and spirit. God is released from the confines of the Temple, for “God is spirit.”

The Temple served a purpose for a time. The people wandered in the wilderness until a settlement was established. Organic moved to organized. But then the organization grew and became complicated – it got in the way of worship and mission for God. And the Samaritans, for example, were not welcome to worship with the Jews…thus producing a stumbling block to the movement of God’s grace in the world.

A (Application): Stumbling blocks. We (the Church) are good at creating stumbling blocks for others. Yet we are also so close to opening up the doors and windows to allow the refreshing autumn air into our homes and places of worship and more.

Breath it in! The crisp, fall air. God is up to something. Can you feel it?

Meet someone new lately? Catch up with an old friend? Or do you find yourself wrapping up tighter and tighter, pulling yourself away from the world?

We are all in different places. But I would invite you to be aware of the places in your life where God is trying to pry open your heart to experience the Spirit’s presence.

Maybe at the water fountain? The coffee station? The lunchroom? Where is God showing up and shaking things up?

P (Prayer): Lord, show us that you are here with us. Amen.

Can You Believe It???

S (Scripture): John 4:39 Now many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the report of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they began asking him to stay with them. He stayed there two days, 41 and because of his word many more believed. 42 They said to the woman, “No longer do we believe because of your words, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this one really is the Savior of the world.”

O (Observation):  Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well was the beginning of a movement.  He engaged in conversation with one woman who became a witness to her family and friends about Jesus being the Messiah – the Messiah of the whole world.  

Here is what my commentary says today:

There is irony in the Samaritans’ declaration that Jesus was really the Savior of the world, an irony foreshadowed in the prologue to the Fourth Gospel (1:11): “He came to his own, and his own did not receive him.” Yet the Samaritans welcomed Jesus and proclaimed him to be not the Jewish Messiah only, but the Savior of the world.

A (Application):  Word of the Messiah spread fast…and beyond the Jewish cultural boundaries…but should we be so surprised?  

As I’ve said many times, God has always loved the whole world, but for a time, God showed the whole world what love looks like by making a covenant with Israel and loving Israel despite all its faults and foibles.  Then, after generations of disloyalty, God comes back to God’s people and the whole world in the person of Jesus.  

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel and to the world.  Jesus shows the world what love looks like.  And the Holy Spirit connects us more now than ever before.  

Are you good at gathering people together?  Are you good at sharing the story of God?  Are you more likely to believe rather than spread the Good News?  We all have different gifts.   Use yours to the fullest.  

P (Prayer):  Lord, I am gifted by your Spirit. Help me to spread the word of your gracious love. Amen.  

Who Is My Neighbor?


S (Scripture): Luke 10:25 Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?” 27 The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” 28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, but when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side. 32 So too a Levite, when he came up to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. 34 He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.’ 36 Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

O (Observation):  In its day, this text would bring extreme shock value.   If anyone would be an example of being a good neighbor, surely the priest or Levite would do.  Yet they avoid the man in the ditch.  Why?  They would not want to be considered ritually unclean.  They could become clean again, but that would be a hassle.  

The Samaritan, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be bothered by the question of “ritual cleanliness.”  (Notice that I’m NOT saying he doesn’t care about being clean / unclean…he simply doesn’t let that hold him back from helping the man on the side of the road.)

The other bit about Samaritans is that they were considered “half-breeds” – Jews that inter-married with those from non-Jewish lineage.   They were “outsiders.”  So adding to the shock value is the fact that the one who is the good neighbor is also one who was typically considered outside of salvation.  

Now, re-read v. 28 and v. 37 again, for clarity.  What is Jesus asking of the young expert in the law?  

Jesus is asking the man to DO the things he knows he is called to do.   He knows that he’s supposed to love God and neighbor.  Now, Jesus tells him to go and do it!   Jesus tells him a story about a Samaritan man who shows what it means to be a neighbor.  Now, Jesus tells him to go and do it!

A (Application):  So easy to say…so hard to do.   Being a disciple is so simple, yet so hard.  We have so much of ourselves, so many obstacles that Jesus calls us to let go of.   But we hold on to the old self…the worldly self.  

Accordingly to this life, we want to be assured of salvation.  Yet Jesus doesn’t seem worried about that at this point.   Jesus seems more focused here on living out love for one’s neighbor…to DO something about one’s calling.  

The more we let go of our earthly surety, the more we allow God’s self to live in us and through us.  In this state of openness, we see that God can do wonders.  

What is in you that must die?  What are you storing up that is getting in the way of loving your neighbor?  For me, simply being intentional about loving my literal neighbor has been my challenge.  To start letting go of my insular life, and inviting them over would be a good start.  

P (Prayer): Lord, help me to see that the Gospel is lived out in me, for you and your glory.  Amen. 

Isn’t it Ironic?

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S (Scripture): John 4:42 The Samaritans said to the (Samaritan) woman, “No longer do we believe because of your words, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this one really is the Savior of the world.”

O (Observation): Jesus Christ had such an impact on the Samaritan woman, that she comes to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. Then, she goes back to her own people, and shares this Good News of Jesus Christ, who can providing water that will quench thirst forever.

The woman with whom Jesus spoke became His advocate. This is the introduction to faith in Jesus, for the Samaritans.

And ironically, this scene begins part of the fulfillment of some words found earlier in this Gospel: John 1:11 He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him.

And who did receive him? The Gentiles/Samaritans. Ironic.

A (Application ): I can’t tell you how many times I blew off my parents’ advice. I can find my own way, thank you very much. I know better. I got this.

Sometimes we step out and learn on our own. Make mistakes, and hopefully learn. (And then later on, we regret that we hadn’t listened to our parents in the first place : )

Jesus wasn’t about to make anyone believe in him, not even his own people. He was simply going to do God’s will, which included sharing the Good News of forgiveness, grace, and love, that God extends to ALL people. So he had a conversation with a person who was outside the culturally accepted norm, and she came to believe.

Like a child not wanting the parents’ advice, most of Jesus’ own (i.e. the Jewish people) did not want to to hear that forgiveness was available to ALL people. All who believe are accepted.

Some of Jesus’ own came around, but he wasn’t concerned with winning them all over. He entrusted his disciples to the work of witnessing and healing and teaching.

And so we Dig Daily into Scripture. We listen for what God is saying to us at this moment. We seek to do God’s will. And we share this gift even if it’s just with one person at the watering hole. You never know with whom they’ll share the story and who might come to believe.

P (Prayer): Lord, I thank you for my parents who passed on the faith to me, but also who showed me how to embrace forgiveness and equality for all. Amen.