Monday, January 22

The "Inbetween Place"

I'm continuing to prepare my sermon on "Being a Welcoming Church" for this Sunday. I'm using John 4 as a text, where Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at Jacob's Well, and doing some digging into the history of that encounter is proving fascinating.

Here's a sneak peak direct from my sermon notes (comments welcome!):

Being a welcomer means “going to them” (or, for that matter, not even thinking about “us” and “them”). We value their questions, their journey with God, wherever they are. It's about not drawing boundary lines. When Jesus does this to the Samaritans they realise their questions are important and valued, and they their journey with God is affirmed. In other words they feel welcome.

Jacob’s Well is situated at a point of great historical significance for Christians, Jews and Muslims, as well as for followers of Samaritarianism, which still exists as an unpopular minority. It lies between two mountains – Ebal and Gerizim, the latter being the Samaritan place of worship to this day. It’s still a point of intense conflict between Israel and Palestine, and to many Israelis the nearby modern city of Nablus (where most modern Samaritans lived until recently) is considered the infrastructure centre of Palestinian terrorism. The areas is still politically “untouchable”.

In Deuteronomy Ch. 27, God commands half the people to stand on Ebal and pronounce curses, while the other half stands on Gerizim to pronounce blessings. Imagine it – two groups shouting opposing viewpoints, each from their own mountain. Does that sound familiar?

In John 4, Jesus goes to the “inbetween place”. He goes to the place between curses and blessings - where there is division and where people draw boundary lines, and there he calls us all to worship in spirit and truth. He goes into the valley, and takes us to a higher plane.

This is more than geography. Just as you can go to a place without really being there, you can also really “be there” without leaving this building. It’s not just about where you are physically, but where you are philosophically. Are we really meeting our community where they are at? Are we valuing their journey, meeting their needs, and trusting the Spirit to show us not just their surface questions, but their deeper longings?
Looking at my notes, I think I might end up speaking for about an hour. Need to trim some stuff out! But there's so much good stuff here. Plus playing with Google Earth has been so much fun! I wish I had the pro version so I could do a helicopter tour into the valley as part of my sermon. Ah well...


Blogger Jamie said...

45 minutes. Oh well. I trimmed out lots of stuff but it all came back to me in the moment. :)

1/29/2007 11:07:00 am  
Blogger boxthejack said...

Samaritans aren't wholly unpopular - see

In fact, a few of their number were arrested, and I think one was killed, due to their membership of the PFLP - as I recall from my time next-door in Nablus. Whilst there had been the suspicion of collaboration, I think there's quite an effort to emphasise the Samaritans' Palestinian-ness, from both secular Palestinian parties, and the Samaritans themselves.

3/01/2007 02:15:00 pm  

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