3rd Sunday Lent: Worshiping When Your Church is Closed

The Third Sunday of Lent features the Gospel of the Samaritan Woman at the Well and her interactions with Jesus and her fellow villagers. 

This robust and beautiful reading speaks of thirst… and that Jesus provides living water for those to be Baptized, and for we who already are baptized,and gives us the opportunity to reflect on what it is that we truly thirst for and how Jesus quenches our thirst.

There is a poignant turn in the story whereby a woman outcast by the community because of her promiscuous behavior becomes an evangelist to the same people who shunned her, and how we too can repent, and turn back to God and become God’s instruments among our own people.

There are intricacies mentioned about the Jewish / Samaritan riff and an assault on the social and cultural mores of the day which we can apply to our lives today and the structural discriminations that we might encounter, or the stereotypes that we perpetuate. 

I have read this story many times, and written about it and preached on it, but today I’m drawn to a part of the story that has never resonated with mebefore.

Jesus said to the woman at the well,
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him
must worship in Spirit and truth.”

As we face this weekend without gathering, our “mountain” upon which we historically worship is closed and we must worship in Spirit and in Truth.

This Covid-19 virus has disrupted our lives significantly and has required unprecedented actions, like closing churches and suspending public liturgies.

We do not know how the Samaritans in the Gospel reacted to Jesus’ observation that their worship would some day be upended but the important question is how will we react and what will we do in the absence of gathering around the Altar.

Will we worship God in Spirit and Truth?

Will we worship/work in a Spirit of charity and love for those whose lives and health are negatively impacted by this virus… whether we know them or not? Whether they are local or distant?

Will we worship/work in a Spirit of generosity… taking this opportunity to afford every individual the basic elements of their God given human dignity?

Will we worship/work in the Truth that we are agents of the common good of all people, and take this opportunity to focus on the welfare of other over our personal self-interests or over our long-standing habits and beliefs?

Will we worship/work in the Truth that God never abandons His people under any circumstances and we need to call upon the Name of Jesus in everything that we think, say and do?

While we cannot gather and receive the Sacraments of the Church at thistime, we are called to continue to be sacraments (efficacious signs) of Jesus Christ, and to bring His sacramental presence to those in our lives.

Deacon B Fobes© 2020

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