Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him.”
Psalm 62: 5
“Every prayer of the Christian, made in faith, according to the will of God, for which God has promised, offered up in the name of Jesus Christ, and under the influence of the Spirit, whether for temporal or for spiritual blessings, is, or will be fully answered.
God always answers the general design and intention of His people’s prayer, in doing that which, all things considered, is most for His own glory and their spiritual and eternal welfare. As we never find that Jesus Christ rejected a single supplicant who came to Him for mercy, so we believe that no prayer made in His name will be in vain!”
Today’s Study Text:
“Presently, when a woman of Samaria came along to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink’ -- For His disciples had gone off into the town to buy food – The Samaritan woman said to Him, ‘How is it that You being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan and a woman, for a drink?’”
John 4: 7-9
“He’s My Friend” – Part 7
“I’m His Child”
“See what an incredible quality of love the Father has given and bestowed on us that we should be permitted to be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are!”
1 John 3: 1
Have I ever felt as though I didn’t really have a place where I belonged?
Do I feel like I am one of God’s children and that I belong to Him?
“All whom my father entrusts to Me will come to Me, and the one (that’s you and me!) who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out. I will never, no never, reject one of (you – My children) who comes to Me.”
John 6: 37
“Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure He took in planning this!)
Ephesians 1: 6
The Message Bible
My cousin and his wife came to visit this past weekend. Because my dad was the youngest of nine children, my cousin and I are a fair number of years apart in age. Add to this the sad events which surrounded the family when my dad’s mom died when he was only six months old and his father died when he was just seven. There’s much about our family that neither of us knows a thing about. However, as we chatted, we realized that if we could somehow get all our living relatives together in one room, and could bring all our individual photographs along with us, it might be possible to put a rather fractured jigsaw puzzle back together which would give us a broader glimpse into the family we belong to.
It may be you can relate to what I’ve shared for possibly you are part of a small or large family that for one reason or another feels splintered, and now you can’t really define where it is that you belong. It is likely the sentiment of belonging was what motivated poet David Whyte to pen the words, “There is no home like the house of belonging.”
The idea of belonging, of feeling loved and accepted, is one which author Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote about when he observed that, “the body is a house of many windows, there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passerby to come and love us.”
For just a moment, put yourself in the sandals of the woman of Samaria. Everyday she made her way to Jacob’s well to draw water. It was a familiar place, but not one where she was really made to feel welcome. She was known in her community. As Professor Deborah J. Kapp explains, “in the eyes of the Gospel writer this woman is a nobody. She does not even merit a name, and her gender, religious orientation, social standing, and personal habits distance her from Jesus and her community. We expect that people will try to avoid this woman and ignore her whenever possible.” However, as Professor Kapp shares, this story is “good news for anyone who has ever felt the humiliation of stigmatization or the pain of being a nobody, because Jesus does not turn away from this woman.”
The fact is, Jesus made a point of stopping in Samaria particularly to see this woman. Further, He engaged her in conversation and as Professor Kapp further notes, Jesus “took her seriously, and spent several days in her village. This woman, her community, and their welfare mattered to Jesus…that is good news.” I’d like to add that it is especially good news if you are a Samaritan and your new acquaintance is Jewish. Or if you are a woman and the person you’ve just run into is a man.
What’s more, while Jesus stopped at Jacob’s well, both tired and thirsty, and the woman came to fill up her empty jug with water, I believe there had to be something very special in Jesus’ initial approach that opened up a small door of receptive response from the Samaritan woman. She did have the option, after seeing a Jewish man at the local well, of immediately turning around and heading home, choosing to visit the well at a different moment in time. But this is not what happened. I love the thought expressed by theologian Paul Tillich who observes that, “sometimes at a moment (of despair) a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice was saying, ‘You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you.’”
I believe that when Jesus came to earth, He looked at each person He met and said, "I love you. I accept you. You belong to Me." And it is Jesus’ open-hearted love and gracious kindness which we can show to those who may feel left outside on the margins of society or outcast by their own mistakes. I want to share with you the results of a very interesting survey which Dr. Mark Rutland writes about in his wonderful book called Streams of Mercy. In this particular survey, thousands of Americans were asked what they would most like someone to say to them. Here are the top three responses:
Number 1: “I love you.”
Number 2: “I forgive you.”
Number 3: “Supper’s ready.”
I love the observation Mark Rutland makes about these unique responses:
“It dawned on me. That’s the whole gospel. (Good News) Jesus stands behind the communion table with His nail-scarred hands outstretched and the light of mercy in His eyes. His voice, His words meet us with healing warmth as we drag our water-logged burdens up the rocky shoreline of life’s most chilling seas. ‘I love you,’ He whispers. ‘I forgive you. Come and dine.’”
As we “Behold The Man,” you and I have the opportunity to pass on to those around us the warmth of love which has penetrated our own lives. We too can say to those who may feel they don’t belong, “I love you.” And to those who may have hurt us, “I forgive you.” And to those who are hungry and thirsty, “Come eat with us.”
I love this special piece from author Anne Lamott’s book Traveling Mercies: “Our funky little church is filled with people who are working for peace and freedom, who are out there on the streets and inside praying, and they are home writing letters, and they are at the shelters with giant platters of food. When I was at the end of my rope, the people at St. Andrew tied a knot in it for me and helped me hold on. The church became my home in the old meaning of home – that it’s where, when you show up, they have to let you in. They let me in. they even said, ‘You come back now.’”
In the words of author and poet George MacDonald, “This is and has been the Father’s work from the beginning – to bring us into the home of His heart.” Why? Because it’s where we really belong! It’s where we will know we are home at last.
The Woman of Samaria
“In the hot noon, for water cool,
She strayed in listless mood;
When back she ran, her pitcher full
Forgot behind her stood.
Like one who followed straying sheep,
A weary man she saw,
Who sat upon the well so deep,
And nothing had to draw.
‘Give me to drink,’ He said. Her hand
Was ready with reply;
From out the old well of the land
She drew Him plenteously.
He spake as never man before;
She stands with open ears;
He spake of holy days in store,
Laid bare the vanished years.
She cannot still her throbbing heart,
She hurries to the town,
And cries aloud in street and mart,
‘The Lord is here: come down.’
Her life before was strange and sad,
It’s tale a dreary sound:
Ah! Let it go – or good or bad,
She has the Master found.”
The Disciple, and Other Poems
God of the Margins
“God of the margins, we pray –
for those living on the edge:
the poor, the lonely, the alienated,
the strangers in our midst;
those isolated by mental or physical illness,
by bereavement or family breakdown;
who have crossed frontiers or missed out on education;
those who slip through the net of social caring,
whose voices are unheard,
who are not quite respectable (though worthy of respect)
- for ourselves, that we may learn
from our sisters and brothers
about resilience and hope against the odds,
about celebration and sharing,
that we may never make assumptions,
or make the church exclusive
when God’s love includes all.
We pray in the name of Christ, at the heart of all.”
Jan Sutch Pickard
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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