Mid Week Devotion 6/03/2020 “Reconciliation”
Good morning, afternoon or evening, depending on when you are watching this mid-week version of our online church presentations. I want to extend a greeting to those of who who are joining in today, however you found us, welcome! My name is Pastor Mel, I trust you find this space comforting, refreshing and safe as we continue to journey through life in quarantine.
Please note that I will be out of town from June 7 trough June 15. I anticipation of life and church returning, Debbie and I need a little time away to recharge in preparation. The Rev. Robb Roper will be covering emergencies for me. All other inquiries can go through the church office.
The Administrative Board has been given updated guidelines from the Bishop and the IGRC cabinet. The guidelines were updated after Governor J.B. Pritzker’s comments of Thursday of last week concerning church services. The office will keep you posted on anything new. As of this recording, in-person church still looks to hopefully be starting in July.
I want you to be in prayer for our nation as we continue to struggle with social and political issues, as well as issues of race, justice and equality. We may not live in the heart of these areas of unrest, but when one of us suffers, we all suffer. It may not be as prevalent, but unrest resides in Jacksonville, too. Through Christ we are connected to all the issues human beings face. I am encouraging you to engage in these issues by speaking openly with God on how your church and you personally can make a difference for reconciliation in our country. Let us carry these heavy thoughts to God in prayer.
Holy, loving and just God, I bring our nation before your throne. O’ God, we have faced one conflict after another and we are a hurting and confused people. We understand the enemy is working overtime to divide us from you and from each other. We humbly acknowledge that you are the one who brought us all together as one with you. Help us to have confidence through Jesus to seek lasting peace and justice for all people. Lord, open our eyes and let us see the great reconciling love you showed to us on the cross. Help us today to stop hurting each other. Amen.
Lord, be with us as we pray the words which you have given to us;
Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on Earth As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
For ever. Amen.
SCRIPTURE – John 4:1-9
Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
41Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. 4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])
I have entitled this devotion, reconciliation.
I love Jesus style in dealing with people. So simply our Lord says, “Will you give me a drink?” Can you think of any less theological or evangelical words? Yet that is exactly what these simple words are. Deeply theological and hugely evangelical. This is a prime example of how God seeks to have a relationship with us and how we should model our relational style with each other.
The Lord is not asking for a new car, a new home or a huge loan, Jesus is asking for what most of us would freely give away, a cup of water. Not only give away, we would never expect to be repaid, for what? A cup of water? What is that possibly worth? Once again, Our Savior takes an ordinary earthly object and changes it into something miraculous and uses it for divine purposes. When the hand of Jesus touches the natural it becomes supernatural. Meaning it has greater worth than where we would value it. What is a cup of well water worth? It seems as though it has huge value to Jesus.
It isn’t really the cup of water. It is the action of sharing it that matters most. It is an act of compassion, not for Jesus but for the one who hands it over. Jesus is already the living water, Jesus does not require our help in getting a drink? This is an act of compassion for the woman at the well. It is for you and me. We are invited to be part of the larger world that God has brought to us. The world of sharing, compassion, love, mercy and grace. Here, Jesus very cleverly brings this woman into a space where the world would never have allowed her to go. What does God see in you and I that we would be welcomed into that same space?
Nations and armies have destroyed each other trying to gain something that has less value than this cup of water. People have wagered everything they have to gain the world, yet own less than this cup of water. Jesus could have asked for a car, house or money, yet only asked for that cup of water. It is perhaps, along with the cross, the most valuable expression of love in the Bible. I say this because this cup represents the loving and free relation that God wants to have with us.
God doesn’t force or demand us. God invites and is welcoming; “Will you give me a drink?” With these words God invites us on a journey greater than any worldly explorer has ever known. We travel only as far as our own hearts. This doesn’t seem far, because our physical hearts are right here, the journey, however, is to find our spiritual hearts. For some that is a long and harrowing adventure.
With these words, Jesus invites us to get on board and begin living as though we are one with God. Jesus is inviting us to share, to give, to love, to stop questioning and doubting and actual do what we saw our Savior do. Give it away. We will never find happiness in acquiring, we will only find happiness in giving and sharing. First a cup of water, then more, maybe even ourselves, our hearts.
My spiritual heart is hurting, but even more, my physical heart as well, this one, right here. It hurts when I watch the news reports of death and violence. What hurts is when I watch us treat each other with death and violence, this us unnatural, it is not Godly, it stands in opposition to, “Will you give me a drink?”
Jesus sat at that well and looked at a marginalized human being and invited her to experience empathy. Not because Jesus needed it, but because she did. We all do. We need it for each other, or we risk siding with the unnatural and ungodly forces that threaten us. This woman was facing a lifetime of scorn and ridicule just because of who she was. Jesus is teaching her that the best response to ugliness and hatred is with love. I always believed her to be at the cross, watching Jesus live out this loving command in person.
If you and I give up and surrender to the ungodly, we would then stand as accused as those four officers in Minneapolis. I don’t think any of us want that. There is a lesson to be learned here. It’s a very simple lesson that begins with us wanting nothing more in this world than to hand over the most valuable possession we have, it’s not a cup of water it is a cup of grace.
Jesus was willing to hand out free grace, it is time we all follow our Lord’s example. It begins by sitting down and actually listening to another person and trying to understand why they are hurting and why they feel marginalized. If we are Christian, this is what Jesus is inviting us to do today.
May God’s peace be with you until we meet again,
Stay safe and God bless.