The worship bulletin for Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018 is now available HERE.
The focus scripture will be: John 4:3-42
[Note: the above Bible translation is worded slightly different from the one referred to below. For instance, the NRSV (above link) refers to the ‘kingdom’ of God, while the translation I use below (The Inclusive Bible) refers to the ‘kindom’ or community of God.]
John is playing with us!
Last week Nicodemus, a well respected scholar and leader in Jerusalem, visited Jesus by night. Jesus tells Nicodemus that unless a person is “born from above” they will not see the ‘kindom’ (the community) of God. NOTICE: we are not told that if we are not born from above we cannot be part of the kindom (the community) of God, we just won’t see (appreciate? notice?) the community of God. Is that too fine of a distinction? Can we be part of something we can’t see? Or, if we can’t see (appreciate or notice) the community of God in the world, how can we claim to be part of it? Nicodemus was quite surprised — and confused. Jesus then tells Nicodemus: “Yes, God so loved the world as to give the Only Begotten One, that whoever believes may not die, but have eternal life. God sent the Only Begotten into the world not to condemn the world, but that through the Only Begotten the world might be saved.” Everyone loves that first sentence. But the second part is what makes it all Good News: God did not send Jesus to condemn the world, but to save it — to make it whole again, to heal it. Note also, God so loved the world… not just believers, not just a certain race or gender or nationality, but the world!
Which brings us to this week’s story. Nicodemus was a leader of Jerusalem, while the woman Jesus encounters at a well in Samaria is unnamed, a woman, and alone. Note that Nicodemus came by night, while this story is at noon – daylight.
Jesus tells Nicodemus about a new understanding of how we relate to, or know, God. Nicodemus is slow to understand. “Religion” was the only path he knew. This week, with the Samaritan woman at the well, John expands on John 3:16-17 — “For God so loved the world…” Who better to represent ‘the world’ than this unnamed Samaritan woman.
Then John expands on the worship of God: “Believe me, the hour is coming when you’ll worship … God neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.”
Does it make a difference that we know Nicodemus’ name, but not the Samaritan woman’s, and, if so, what difference?
Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night, but the Samaritan woman comes at the brightest time of day — noon. Is this important? What does it say to you?
What is John saying to us about our relationship with God?
What is he saying to us about the role of ‘religion’ in our lives?