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DIGITAL CHURCH:

Dear Friends, please receive this short text service as today's  worship. Chris and I are working on an audio and video version for next week.  We can still be a connected community of faith while we are physically apart!  

VIRTUAL WORSHIP 3/15/20

CALL TO WORSHIP:

Pandemic

by Rev Lynn Ungar
------------------------------------

What if you thought of it

as the Jews consider the Sabbath—

the most sacred of times?

Cease from travel.

Cease from buying and selling.

Give up, just for now, 

on trying to make the world

different than it is. 

Sing. Pray. Touch only those

to whom you commit your life.

Center down.


And when your body has become still,

reach out with your heart.

Know that we are connected

in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.

(You could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives

are in one another’s hands.

(Surely, that has come clear.)

Do not reach out your hands.

Reach out your heart.

Reach out your words.

Reach out all the tendrils

of compassion that move, invisibly,

where we cannot touch.


Promise this world your love--

for better or for worse,

in sickness and in health,

so long as we all shall live.

SCRIPTURE LESSON:

John 4:5-42

4:5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.

4:6 Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

4:7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."

4:8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)

4:9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)

4:10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."

4:11 The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?

4:12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?"

4:13 Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,

4:14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life."

4:15 The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water."

4:16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come back."

4:17 The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband';

4:18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!"

4:19 The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet.

4:20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem."

4:21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

4:22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.

4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

4:25 The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us."

4:26 Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."

4:27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, "What do you want?" or, "Why are you speaking with her?"

4:28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people,

4:29 "Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?"

4:30 They left the city and were on their way to him.

4:31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, "Rabbi, eat something."

4:32 But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about."

4:33 So the disciples said to one another, "Surely no one has brought him something to eat?"

4:34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.

4:35 Do you not say, 'Four months more, then comes the harvest'? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.

4:36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.

4:37 For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.'

4:38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."

4:39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I have ever done."

4:40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days.

4:41 And many more believed because of his word.

4:42 They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.

SCRIPTURE REFLECTION:

Dear Beloveds of West Dover Congregational Church,

Here are a few brief thoughts on today’s Gospel and our current time and situation.

We often think of Samaritans as ‘outsiders,’ but a better understanding would be “enemies.”  So stories in the New Testament that concern Samaritans, such as this one, are not merely dealing with folks of a different culture, but of one that the people around Jesus often felt justified to hate or fear.  This is the backdrop to our story of Jesus presenting himself to a Samaritan woman at a well and doing something that was no less than illegal by demanding she give him a drink.  He ignores two good reasons to not speak to her which she points out in her response.  Jesus then quickly changes the subject to the point he presumably wanted to make from the start by telling her that she should ask him for living water. She agrees that she would very much like such water, although she seems to think what he is offering is only a physical water source. After a brief display of one of Jesus’ lesser powers, she responds in faith by running to tell people that a prophet and perhaps even the messiah himself is at the nearby well.  

Jesus’ friends are wondering what he was doing talking to the woman, but decide to push food on him instead. He responds by saying he has some food they don’t know about, which once again is interpreted literally before Jesus explains this second metaphor, saying it’s his calling that truly feeds him.

Some people are afraid today. That’s reasonable. We have a new virus and poor resources to identify who has it.  And while some folks might rightly fear it could hurt them or someone they love, it would seem that the biggest fear is of how other people are going to act if certain social institutions fall apart.  If toilet paper is hoarded before the virus even arrives, what will people hoard and fight over once it does arrive?  Jesus’ day at the well and with his friends remind us both of what is at stake and what is possible if we only look to God rather than to our fears. Jesus likens what God is offering to the things our bodies need most—water and food.  He calls the first “living,” and the second, something we “do not know about.”  When pushed to explain, he defines the thing the disciples don’t know about as his ministry of doing the work he was sent here to do by God.  

We have that same call.  As Jesus’ disciples in this time and corner of God’s creation we call Vermont, may we meet our deepest needs by opening our hearts and resources to those around us. This is the only way to have our deepest thirst quenched and deepest hunger satisfied.  Christianity works just fine in easy times, but it was forged the worst of times and has since carried God’s people through much more difficult times than the ones we now face.  Love each other. Make your love reap grace as well as justice in your homes and with your neighbors.     Then we might get a glimpse of Christ’s unknown meal; a meal he gave everything to share with us.  

BENEDICTION

May you go forth thirsting and hungering for all the unknown love God has inshore for you and those you are called to serve.  Amen!

Be well and be blessed!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Jeremy Kirk



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The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a distinct and diverse community of Christians that come together as one church to join faith and action.  With over 5,000 churches and nearly one million members across the U.S., the UCC serves God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world.

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