Lent 3A

211: March 19, 2017

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 95 Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Voice in the Wilderness:  Romans 5:1-11 with Gill Lefevre

Featured Musician - Steven Schallert, “Tremble, Tremble,” from his album “Songs of Sorrow/Songs of Hope”

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Liturgy Man - Taylor Burton-Edwards answers questions about liturgy such as “who should get Communion first?” and “Should we stand at the reading of the Gospel?” While the segments are Methodist-centric, there is some interesting historical background in most of the short episodes.

55: March 23, 2014

Exegetical Notes

John 4:5-42 - Living Water

Initial thoughts

  • The story of the first evangelist.
  • Jes us as Sherlock, knows intuitively (deductively?) that the woman has been married five times.

Bible Study

  • Structure:
    • Samaritan Woman
      • Living Water (never go thirsty)
      • True Worship (all will worship spirit and truth)
    • Disciples
      • Spiritual Food (doing the will of God)
      • Mission Field (many workers gain eternal life)
    • Samaritan People
      • Paved path toward the time that is coming
      • Declare that Jesus is the savior of the world (they do this before Nicodemus, before John the Baptist,
  • Geography - Walking from Judea to Galilee, it is nearly impossible to not pass through Samaria.
    • Samaritans did not submit to Temple authority.  Did not recognize Jerusalem as the place of worship.
    • Samaritan Temple stood on Mount Gerizim
    • When Jesus says “The time is coming when you and your people will worship on neither this mountain nor in Jerusalem,” alluding to the coming destruction of the Temple, which occurred in 70, years before John was written.
    • Story of a Samaritan being accepted into a Jewish group would have still been controversial at the time of John’s writing.  This story could be seen as evidence of Jewish-Samaritan healing (Gerard Sloyan, Interpretation: John, p. 56)
      • This could have also further alienated the Johannine community from the mainline Jewish community, thus much of the anti-Jewish language found in Gospel.
  • The Woman - cultural baggage
    • Married five times.  A lot of cultural judgment has been heaped on this woman.
    • Jesus treats her with respect, and she is a worthy conversant.
      • “The Samaritan woman is, in fact, one of the most theologically informed persons in the Fourth Gospel. She knows the regulations about ritual purity (verse 9), ancestral traditions of Israel (verse 12), the necessity to worship at a valid temple (verses 19-20), and the expectation of a Messiah (verse 25). She is, in short, conversant in Samaritan theology [which is not surprising since, unlike Jews, Samaritans educated religiously both male and female children], and Jesus takes her as seriously as a discussion partner as he did Nicodemus in the preceding chapter (pgs. 83-84)” quoted from UMBOD worship planning helps.
    • Jesus approached her, unlike Nicodemus who approached Jesus, yet she goes away with new understanding, and Nicodemus simply fades away.
    • Goes to testify to Jesus who, “knew everything I’ve done.”  She asks the questions, “Can this man be the Christ?”
    • After staying in Samaria two days, the people answer her question, and declare “this is truly the savior of the world.”
  • Misunderstanding between water and living water (like born and born again)
    • Living water - Understood simply to be water that is moving, life giving, able to drink.  Jesus means more.
    • Never go thirsty alludes to eternal nature of what Jesus is offering.
    • Ti me is coming - when all true worshipers will worship in spirit and truth.
      • True worshipers can include Jews or Samaritans.
      • Divisions between the people are not “true,” unity in truth and spirit is what is “true.”
  • Disciples show up, misunderstand about food.
    • “I have food to eat that you don’t know about,” Jesus says. Disciples respond, “Did someone bring him food?”
    • “I am fed by doing the will of the one who sent me.”  Again, misunderstanding about earthly and spiritual.  
    • Develops the metaphor around sowing and reaping.  The fields are ripe for the harvest, which is shown by Samaritans’ acceptance and conversion, which comes next.  
  • Contrast to last week’s text on Nicodemus

    • Man vs Woman

    • Night vs Day

    • Private vs Public

    • Pharisee vs Samaritan

  • Evangelism

    • A little rude

    • Jesus listens and had an actual conversation

    • Jesus puts in the work to stay and abide with the people

  • John is multi-layered

    • Water

      • Drink and never be thirsty

    • Food

      • “I have food to eat that you don’t know about… I am fed by doing the will of the one who sent me”

    • Harvest

      • The fields are ready and ripe for the harvest.

      • Those who work receive the pay of eternal life.

      • “I have sent you to harvest what you didn’t work hard for” (not about social services, but boy is it tempting).

  • Charles Cousar: two themes are radical newness and radical inclusiveness

    1. Radical Newness - Jesus presents something that is so radical that it is difficult to even comprehend.

      • Conversation about water quickly turns into something more.

      • She wants him to settle an old dispute - pick a side, but he offers a different way.

        • Jesus says “But the time is coming - and is here - when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth.”

      • The term forever is easily read in our culture as starting after we die. Here though, forever does not start with death, “This is a continuing theme in John's Gospel:  life in Christ begins now and continues even through death.” (Rob Myalis, LectionaryGreek.com)

    2. Radical Inclusiveness - The way in which it is presented is radical not only in nature, but in who is included in the presentation.

      • Samaria

        • Apparent prohibitions on Samaritans and Jews sharing a dipper (sound familiar, Jim Crow?).

      • Woman

        • There at noon, probably not a part of the regular community.

        • Married five times, not married now.

          • Begs many questions, but culture has put too much shame on this woman. Unpack the things that tradition claims to “know” about her.

        • She does not withdraw from conversation, but actually digs deeper.

        • Reveals a level of understanding and ability to comprehend.

        • Even disciples are “shocked that he was talking with a woman.” (John 4:27)

        • Becomes an apostle to the rest of the Samaritans, and “many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s word.” (4:39)

      • Samaritans

        • This is more than a one-on-one, it opens up the ministry to an entire people.

        • Led at first by her testimony, but then by Jesus’ own words.

        • She tells them about Jesus, they are intrigued, but it is Jesus who truly convinces them that he is the Savior of the world.

Preaching Thoughts and Questions

  • How do you and I come to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord, our Savior, our Messiah? What life-transforming encounter with him changed our hearts and minds and caused us to want to go and tell others the good news? from UMBOD Lectionary Planning.
  • When you are running on empty, how are you refilled?  Both pastors and lay people need to take time to be filled with the Spirit.  Sabbath and Fasting are powerful tools to take care of spiritual thirsty.
  • Wh ere is your field?  Are you in it?  Are you building bridges or strengthening walls?  Are you going into the field to sow and reap, or counting your savings in the storehouse?
  • “Repeatedly in the narrative we find details that remind us that the new age fulfilled in the presence of Jesus breaks down barriers. No longer are Jews and Samaritans, males and females, to be thought of in isolated, segregated categories. Salvation comes “from the Jews” but something  new has occurred in Jesus… The sweeping, inclusive character of Jesus’ mission is a note that needs sounding again and again today. Rebuilding walls seems so much easier than tearing them down.” (Cousar, Texts for Preaching, 1995. p. 208

  • To never be thirsty would be quite something.

    • Compassion and Service: Thirst is such a universal experience, and bringing someone something to drink is such a fundamental act of service. Think of who brings you something to drink - host at a party, server at a restaurant, a parent to a child in bed. Thirst is a fundamental need, and to satisfy someone’s most fundamental need is a remarkable act of service and love.

    • Justice and Mission: Think of how hard people once (still do) had to work to get a drink of water. It is an ordeal to walk to a well, carry the water, and bring it back. For many girls in particular, the need to get water every day keeps them from school, training, and independence. In many places, the lack of clean water is the most pressing need for an entire community.

Psalm 95 - Make a Joyful Noise

Initial thoughts

  • Psalm Song - “Let Us Shout for Joy” by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan
    click the above link for lyrics and more of Richard’s great music!
  • Check out Joan Stott’s Timeless Psalms (and from 2011)
  • Happy Psalm in Lent?
    • Read the whole Psalm don’t stop at 7a
    • Two parts:
      • Joy in God: Creator and Sustainer of Life and Good Things
      • LISTEN TO GOD - stop being dumb and listen, unlike your ancestors who did not

Bible Study

  • Worship and Enthronement Psalm (Psalm 47, 93, 95-99)
    • last week, Psalm 121, was a Pilgrim Psalm
    • Festival Psalm- most likely recited at major Israelite pilgrim festivals (Rolf Jacobson)
  • v.1-5 - Call to Worship
    • Worship is communal - “Let us...” both praise and warning are communal
    • Worship is public and loud - “Make a joyful noise”Singing, clapping, stamping feet - People will know you are worshipping
    • Worship is a Whole Body experience - “bow down” and “kneel before”
    • Worship is God-focused
    • If someone walked in your church without knowing it was a church - would they know what was going on? What would they think?
  • “Christians still seem to think that in the spiritual realm man is central. We persist in emphasizing what God can do for men, rather than dwelling on man’s duty toward God. We become angry with God or confused when adversity disrupts our lives. It is little wonder that Christians have so much difficulty worshipping God. Worship is God-centered, not man-centered.” Bob Deffinbaugh, Psalm 95: A Warning About Worship
  • Listen to God v.8-11
    • Ancestors did not listen
      • Forty years in the wilderness
      • Some did not enter the promise land
      • Yet- they traveled in God’s presence...GOD DID NOT LEAVE THEM
      • Perhaps the problem is they were so focused on the wilderness they failed to see God’s presence
    • When we acknowledge the presence of God - what is the proper response? Joyful noise!
      • How do we reveal the presence of God in our midst (even when in the wilderness)?
      • “The message here, in the Lenten season, is that God’s law in its first use remains in effect. Even as God re-commits to the covenantal relationship, even as God remains committed to God’s people, God nevertheless calls the people to obedience. God is holy and God calls the chosen people to holiness in response to God’s grace. For everything there is a season. Lent is the time for this message of joy and reproof.” (Rolf Jacobson)
    • Meribah and Massah - see Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20:1-13, Water from the Rock!
      • In the wilderness with no water
      • When we do not share water or ensure water for all aren’t we hardening our hearts to God?
      • God  provided water - not in rain, but through Moses and his staff - How might God work through us to bring water - to create a w orld where all people can make a joyful noise?

Preaching Thoughts and Questions

  • How do we reveal the presence of God in our midst (even when in the wilderness)?
  • For the Israelites joy and penance were not in opposition but were united in worship. How might Christian reclaim this integration of joy and penance?
  • If someone walked in your church without knowing it was a church - would they know what was going on? What would they think?
  • When we do not share water or ensure water for all aren’t we hardening our hearts to God?
  • God provided water - not in rain, but through Moses and his staff - How might God work through us to bring water - to create a world where all people can make a joyful noise?

Exodus 17:1-7 Water from the Rock!

Initial Thoughts

  • Wilderness of Sin is a great band name...

Bible Study

  • Context:

    • 14 - Parting of the Sea

    • 15 - Song of Praise followed by first water complaint (salt into fresh water)

    • 16 - Manna from heaven

    • Before the decalogue (19-24)

  • Wilderness of Sin

  • Complaints to Moses

    • Moses holds the Israelites accountable

    • Moses brings the concerns to God in prayer (not to other members of the community in the parking lot)

    • Moses redirects their focus to God

  • Central question, “How do we know that God is with us?”

    • Literally, “Is the Lord in our midst or not?”

    • Often arises when people find themselves in the midst of H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired)

      • When things are great people do not doubt that God is with them (or they are too busy praising themselves)

      • When things are bad it must be because God has abandoned them

    • This is the question that has plagues Israel since the beginning with abundant evidence of God’s presence:

      • Plagues

      • Parting the Sea

      • Drinkable water

      • Manna from heaven

    • Also calling out from the experience of slavery - where was God in the midst of generations of slavery?

    • Moses (and presumably the Elders) see God standing on the rock, the rest of the community does not - how to reveal the miracle within the ordinary?

    • God’s house

      • Houses of worship were traditionally designed to answer this question - God’s presence could be felt in the mystery of the Holy of Holies, in the grandeur of flying buttresses, in the reformed starkness of what walls and grand pulpits.

  • Not alone

    • Moses does not go off alone to bring water from the rock but with the elders.

    • Exodus 17:8-16, Immediately after this is a story of God working through Moses to lead the Israelites into victory over Amalek, but he is only able to do so with the help of Aaron and Joshua

    • Neither Moses - nor you - can do it alone, called to serve God through community

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • How often do we find ourselves in the same position of the Israelites: forgetting to give thanks to God for what God has done and instead blaming God what what we think God is not doing? It is the “God, what have you done for me lately?” complex. How do we overcome it?

  • What about when we cry out to God for a miracle that never(or seemingly never) comes?

    • Israelites cry out to God in the midst of slavery- are eventually saved, but after generations of oppression

    • We constantly cry out to God for prayers that are seemingly unanswered (and not all of them can be summed up by Garth Brooks)

  • Moses gets to see God standing in the rock - the rest of the community only gets to “see” God in the spring of water. How can we reveal God’s presence in the seemingly ordinary?

Thank you for listening and get in touch

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Nola’s First Dance” from their album Lay Down, Lay Low) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).