IMG_6948

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.’ 

Here is the essence of the view of Jesus when it comes to everything from denominations to worship styles and everything in between.

God is spirit. What did Jesus say about spirit earlier in the Gospel of John? Remember?

The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is like the wind and he will blow wherever he wants. We will know if we are worshiping with spirit and truth when we see things happening through us that happened with Jesus and his followers in his day.

Enemies are loved. Seeking the good of others, no matter who they are. Cheeks are turned. No revenge. Seeking the truth of Jesus with courage and consideration, even when society calls it hatred or bigotry. When our lives look more and more like Jesus is living our lives we know we are are the path of spirit and truth.

No, it’s not about places or building, it’s about hearts and minds and bodies and souls and relationships that all point to the love of God in Jesus Christ.

ME

“They will know we are Christians by our love…” Not a quaint chorus for an old camp song, but maybe the essence of who we are…

garciae_lifehouselogo_100years

We will continue our 100 year anniversary celebration with a special worship event on Sunday April 2nd@ 10 a.m. We will have a “Youth” emphasis for the day, with special guest speakers, Pastor Mike Anderson and Missy Andrews!

Come for worship and enjoy a free BBQ lunch after and peruse artifacts and videos of our recent past!

1280px-Vatican_StPeter_Square

John 4

‘Believe me, woman,’ replied Jesus, ‘the time is coming when you won’t worship the father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You worship what you don’t know. We worship what we do know; salvation, you see, is indeed from the Jews. But the time is coming – indeed, it’s here already! – when true worshippers will worship the father in spirit and in truth. Yes; that’s the kind of worshippers the father is looking for. 

God and the Church aren’t the same thing. You can’t confuse one with the other. Jesus knows that one mountain or one Temple isn’t going to contain God anyway. It’s like denominations.

When God is offering the living water, getting caught up on which church you should go to becomes a moot point. Denominations are human inventions, not God’s inventions. There is only one Church. Where Jesus reigns. Just like holy mountains or holy buildings, denominations can become idols. All of these things are at most signposts pointing to God, not a box that contains God.

ME

How many different churches have you attended?

woman at the well

John 4
‘Well, sir,’ replied the woman, ‘I can see you’re a prophet …Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain. And you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.’ 

Jesus is catching the woman in an uncomfortable situation. He seems to know quite a bit about her.

Whenever a light is shined on issues that may have something to do with morality, people often try to change the subject. Even though Jesus isn’t making any moral judgments, the woman quickly tries to shift the focus. And one of the ways people try to change the subject quickly is bringing up religion.

I get this quite a bit. Someone will ask what I do for a living, I’ll say I’m a pastor, and often it immediately enters into their view of religion and usually, why they don’t follow one. Though I haven’t asked about anything! If they are older, I will often hear this.

“I used go church when I was little, but…”

Then will come the reasons they aren’t connected anymore.

  • All the church did was ask for money…
  • My church was really strict and judgmental…
  • My mom was a Baptist and my dad was a Catholic and so we ended up not going to church at all…
  • I’m spiritual, I’m just not religious…

You can hear it in her voice. The tone doesn’t change.

‘I was brought up to think that this mountain, here in Samaria, was God’s holy mountain. But you Jews think yours is the right one.’

She seems to be saying, we can’t both be right about which place is the right one to worship. Maybe nobody knows. And maybe, here comes the kicker, nobody knows about morality either.

Yet, the woman is asking a serious question. She is not being flippant. And Jesus honors her question with a serious answer.

ME

Do you have friends who use to “go to church” but don’t now? What do they think about you?

LindaWolfe-90178

John 4

‘Well then,’ said Jesus to the woman, ‘go and call your husband and come here.’ ‘I haven’t got a husband,’ replied the woman. ‘You can say that again!’ replied Jesus. 18 ‘The fact is, you’ve had five husbands, and the one you’ve got now isn’t your husband. You were speaking the truth!’

We all know about Hollywood celebrities who have married many times. Elizabeth Taylor comes to mind. 8 marriages. Or with more, Zsa Zsa Gabor, married 9 times. But, it’s not just celebrities who are serial spouses. This is Linda Wolfe, and she has been married 23 times. That’s the Guinness World Record.

She took her last husband, Glynn Wolfe, as part of a publicity stunt. Their vows made Linda his 29th wife, making him the most married person at the time. He died a year later at age 88. Linda said she said that she was “on the lookout for number 24”.She says, “It’s been years since I walked down the aisle. I miss it.”

So, how about a woman from Samaria who has been married five times and is currently working on number 6? What is going on with her?
First century marriage and divorce customs aren’t the same in first century Israel as today. For a woman you initiate a divorce was highly rare.
It is likely her five marriages are an unfortunate combination of death and maybe a couple of divorces. Since a woman would need a dowry to marry, she probably is out of options by now. She might be an older man’s concubine.
The reason these may be likely is first there are no examples of 5 divorces from any sources in ancient times. Second, later we will see she is respected enough to be listened to by townspeople when she speaks with them.
Yet, no matter what the situation, five men and now number six is awkward, even if it isn’t promiscuous. Troublesome, and probably a combination of bad luck and bad choices. But, why did Jesus know any of this? She will find out soon enough.

ME
Has Jesus spoken direct truth to you like this? What was it like?

IMG_6912

John 4

But sir,’ replied the woman, ‘you haven’t got a bucket! And the well’s deep! So how were you thinking of getting living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, with his sons and his animals ‘Everyone who drinks this water’, Jesus replied, ‘will get thirsty again. But anyone who drinks the water I’ll give them won’t ever be thirsty again. No: the water I’ll give them will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘give me this water! Then I won’t be thirsty any more, and I won’t have to come here to draw from the well.’

All direct writings that compare God to “living water” in the Old Testament are in Psalms and the Prophets. Since the Samaritans don’t consider those books the Bible, it shouldn’t be shocking the woman is taking Jesus literally, and thinking only about water. She is not familiar with those passages.

But, Jesus is talking about so much more. He is offering a new way of life. Unlike all the religions and philosophies of the world up until this time, Jesus is uniquely offering life with God no matter what your sex, your geography, your race, your prior religious background. When you come to God through Jesus, the living water, all distinctions are washed away. With Jesus beginning now and for eternity, true life with God is “out of many one.” It isn’t by accident that the ancestors of our country took this as a de facto motto for our nation. E pluribus Unum. 

Here is the thing. As a Christian, my sole identity is as a son of God the Father and the subject of my Lord, Jesus. Everything else about me may be a description, but this is not my identity. Jesus comes into the world and breaks the world’s emphasis on what sets us apart, and offers a new life that brings us together with the living water. There is only one answer to what can bring humanity together as one. It has nothing to do with diversity training and using labels for everything. The answer has everything to do with coming to the same living water and drink of it as one.

ME

Why is it attractive to emphasize diversity?

This is a talk by Pastor Dana to the Prime Time senior group on March 15, 2017

Martin Luther’s key teaching on the role of the Church and the state, both of which he sees as under to direct rule of God. Luther speaks about the two governments, or the two kingdoms.

1024px-Angelika_Kauffmann_-_Christus_und_die_Samariterin_am_Brunnen_-1796

John 4

‘If only you’d known God’s gift,’ replied Jesus, ‘and who it is that’s saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you’d have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’

Now Jesus is using a play on words. “Living water” would refer to fresh moving water from a river or stream, rather than pond water or well water, which may be getting stagnant. But, Jesus is connecting the living water to God. Then we have a whole new meaning. In Jeremiah for instance, God speaks about himself as “living water.”

Jeremiah 2:13 They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water.

17:13 They will be buried in the dust of the earth,

for they have abandoned the Lord, the fountain of living water.

Or, water will come from the Temple.

Joel 3

Water will fill the streambeds of Judah, and a fountain will burst forth from the Lord’s Temple, watering the arid valley of acacias.

God is the living water. Out if him flows all that is good. And Jesus is alluding to himself as the living water, which fits the fact that in John’s Gospel Jesus is already pointing to himself being God and the Temple.

ME

If you swim in ponds vs. fresh water mountain streams, what do you think you notice?