Our scripture this week is John 4:5-42.
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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.”
The children of Israel had split into two separate kingdoms following the reign of King Solomon – Israel or Samaria to the north, and Judah to the south. Because they had been one country, there was enmity between them. Thus, the Samaritan woman is surprised that Jesus would engage in conversation with her. He tells her things about her life and she is convinced He is a prophet.
She speaks of both country’s worship practices, which were virtually the same, except for location – the Jews worshipped at the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem, while the Samaritans held Mt. Gerazim as their place of worship. Jesus tells her it will not matter where people worship God but that they must “worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth” (v. 23). He indicates that it is more important that we approach God in love and honesty, no matter where or when or how we worship.
Jesus speaks to an issue we still face today. God wants only to love and connect with us. He doesn’t care what day of the week, time, place or style of worship we practice as long as He is the focus of our intent. He calls us to love each other and respect our different needs for worship – silence, prayer, praise, whatever is needed to honor God. We must remember that where, when or how we worship is far less important than who we worship and why.
Gracious God, help us to see our worship in new ways, allowing all to come before You in spirit and truth. May our praise draw us closer to You and renew Your spirit in us to follow the call You make on our lives. Amen.