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.

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Seeing in a New Way


S (Scripture): John 4:19 The [Samaritan] woman said to [Jesus], “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you people say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You people worship what you do not know. We worship what we know, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But a time is coming – and now is here – when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (the one called Christ); “whenever he comes, he will tell us everything.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I, the one speaking to you, am he.”

O (Observation):  One can focus on many parts of the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at a well.  Today, what grabs my attention – my kairos – is the focus on the locus of worship.  

The Samaritan Woman is confused by Jesus’ presence at this particular well.  She says that the Jews are to worship in Jerusalem, yet Jesus is saying that one can worship outside of Jerusalem.  Jesus says the locus is not a “WHERE,” but a “WHO.”   And that “who” is God the Father, who we worship in spirit and truth, for God is greater than just one earthly location. 

A (Application):  We can get caught up in our places of worship…our church buildings.  In fact, our congregation is paying off a small building loan which we used to make some major repairs.  And we are gathering funds for future building needs. 10%of what we gather will go to the ELCA Disaster Response program, too.  We are doing our best to be good stewards of this physical space to gather people to worship, learn, and serve others.  But we can cling too closely sometimes, too.  

When someone grows up in one place and doesn’t see the world (or even other regions in the same country) one can become biased towards a certain set of beliefs or traditions.   Those beliefs and traditions, when challenged, are hard to let go of.  We feel like we lose something of ourselves if we don’t hold on to those original beliefs and traditions.  And in a way, our identity is changed (which isn’t ALL bad).

The Samaritan woman had cause to be concerned and challenged by Jesus.  We have cause to be concerned when something spoken challenges us…but that’s not always a bad thing.  

From the letting go of some of our baggage comes new life.  Transformation is something that opens us up to seeing God anew.  In fact, our long-held beliefs could be holding us back from seeing what God is up to in our lives this very day.  

We worship God in many ways and we let God challenge our beliefs to open us up.   

What is the latest challenge for you?  What are you letting go of?  What have you let go of lately?  

P (Prayer):  Lord, help us to see anew.  Amen.