John 4:23-24

Thursday, March 16
Phyllis Kersten

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

Today’s passage is our third excerpt this Lent from the story of Jesus’ conversation with a nameless Samaritan woman. Almost from the beginning, the two are engaged in a theological discussion. Extraordinary – for it was taboo for a Jew to speak to a woman in public, let alone to engage her in a religious discussion! When Jesus offers the woman “living water,” she doesn’t get what’s really being offered to her, the gift of eternal life. The woman believes, however, that Jesus must be a prophet because of what he knows about her private life.           

In today’s verses the woman raises the main issue that has caused a rift between Samaritans and Jews – where Samaritans worshipped, on Mt. Gerizim, instead of in Jerusalem. But Jesus declares that the essential question is not where to worship, but whom – God the Father, “in spirit and in truth.” Then Jesus, who later in John says of himself, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” reveals himself to the Samaritan woman in his first “I am” saying, as “the Messiah” of both Samaritans and Jews.

What this encounter story is about is God’s desire to end the enmity and divisions between people. Encounters at wells are the site where Jewish patriarchs met their marriage partners. Now at Jacob’s well Jesus declares God’s love for Samaritans and all who are still separated from God today. 

I could easily name on one hand 50-plus women at Grace who have been transformed by Christ’s love into loving others. There’s Pat who invites individuals who live in her building to come to Grace to worship with her. There are all those who weekly partner with Harmony members to staff their food pantry. And the women and their spouses who welcome refugees at O’Hare and furnish places for them to live. And the young adults and retirees who tutor at Harmony. Plus, those who prepare and deliver Grace Care meals to folks like me. And, I suspect, last, but not least, there’s you!

Lord God, help us in our every encounter to love others. In Jesus’ name. Amen  

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