Worship can divide people. It shouldn’t. When Jesus, a Jewish itinerate Rabbi encounters a Samaritan woman with a difficult marital history, the conversation comes around to worship. And really who is to be worshipped.
The questions and answers are handed down to children, taught to all ages, and ultimately asked of all those capable of making informed decisions to do just that: choose how and where you will worship! We take into consideration geography, ethnicity, personality, language, and personal tastes. Jesus, however, keeps it fairly simple. Worship in Spirit and Truth.
I suspect that Spirit and Truth are found in tens of thousands of worshipping congregations. I have to decide on somewhere. I should always watch and listen for Spirit and Truth. A tall order but people do just that year in and year out. When you depart from worship has the Spirit been felt in Word, song, and fellowship? Has Truth found its way into your heart and mind? Do they go with you throughout the week as a result of worship? Each of us must respond.
Personally I am at home in United Methodist worship. But I can also feel at home to some degree in most churches. I enjoy the beauty of much in Catholic services. I can appreciate the simple acapella singing in Churches of Christ. I can get “in the spirit” in some Pentecostal services. And I know the calming of quiet meditative serenity of Friends meetings and others committed to services of prayer and meditation. I have found most of the above in our United Methodist churches at some point. So I will likely stay home!! However, I do draw the line at “snake handling” and believe this expression is a misinterpretation of Mark 16:17, 18. And I am not much for “running up and down the aisles” in a church either! Both seem to “stretch” the idea of Spirit AND Truth!
This Sunday we will hear of the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman and see what and Who is at stake in worship! Bring all of who you are to worship (but no snakes and no running in the aisles)!
Dr. Seuss was right to write a book about places you might go in your lifetime or for that matter the very next week! He phrases it as a declaration with an exclamation point! We as Church might ask it as a question: “Where are the places we will go?” You, as an individual, ask at many bends in the road journey of life, “where am I headed?”
The great book Pilgrims Progress (1684) is an allegory of the Christian traveling through life’s Swamps, Valleys, and Mountains. Wesley’s Journals are an impressive “spiritual adventure” as he describes his itinerate “outdoor” ministry of preaching in the villages and fields of 18th century England.
Our scriptures for the 2nd Sunday in Lent are about the forward movement of the call of Abraham, the need to be called to “new birth” at any age in John’s Gospel, and Paul’s plea in Romans to see where Jews and Gentiles together are headed! An exciting, life giving journey, full of unknown wilderness and new and old traveling companions is promised to all who step out in faith: “the just shall live by faith!”
Oh?? The places we will go? Look backward and see from where you have already come and who was there before you were! And open heart and hands for the next turn and bend in the road of life up ahead!
Thanks be to God~†
Sins can be compared to the irritation caused by a flea bite all the way to death from the bite of a rattlesnake. There is always some degree of pain, some worse than others. Lent, at the very least, is a reminder of the pain caused by Sin. As much as we want to “shout the Victory” all the time, the pain of sin can mute the shout….for a while…. In the quiet moments after the reminders of how rough it can be and how rough each of us can be on each other, we realize the cost to God to love and forgive: God’s total investment in US to the point of Death.
This is what Lent helps us to remember. Jesus’ ministry and His life’s journey is toward the Cross. That should stir something in us! It is a journey we should be taking since we are the Sinners, but we don’t have to go to the Cross. What we do take upon us is acts of gratitude and thanksgiving. And those often involve the faith and willingness to change. Thus, a Forty Day journey with potential to really grow in Christ, to grow in spiritual maturity. Forty Days to put the bites of fleas and rattlesnakes in their “proper place!”
There is a balm in Gilead after all! Sin sick souls need that!