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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Two Stories

For the past couple months we've been involved in a 40 day commitment to scripture reading and prayer. It has been truly amazing. Rachel and I have talked about our reading together almost daily - and I have loved that. Chris, Heidi, Rachel and I have sent countless emails back and forth - this process of being transformed by scripture together has had the added impact of deepening our friendship.

We've had some great conversations on Sundays with our worshiping community and I have been blown away by the ways in which God has clearly answered our prayers for miracles and for the request of Luke 10:2 ("beg the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers...") Our suspicion about that verse is that its answer comes by way of connection with people "from the harvest." The stories of conversations that have fallen into our laps with people who don't yet believe, or perhaps want to believe but are skeptical of Christians... There's no denying what's been taking place in the lives of those who threw themselves into this relatively small commitment.

Today is the last Sunday during our 40 days - we conclude on Tuesday. Our time has been so powerful that the Chappotins, Rachel and I have decided to do this again with a new set of readings during Lent.

It wasn't easy to read 5 chapters of scripture a day, six days/week but it was a worthwhile challenge. I don't think any of us made our exact goal every day - and that isn't the point. The point was to immerse ourselves in God's Word regularly, and that was/is a worthwhile goal.

So, as we draw this time to a close with the reading of the gospel of John (we read 1-10 on Fri-Sat and will read the 2nd half Mon-Tues), I'd like to post a short section from a sermon I preached in August of 2007 in Mandeville. I did a series of lessons on the life of Jesus and many of the sermons came from John's gospel. This one, which focuses on the stories of Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 3 and 4 respectively, was inspired in part by Eugene Peterson's, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (great book). If you've read it, you should notice that this section I'm including draws very heavily from the book.

I've been greatly blessed by this time of commitment to Scripture and Prayer in community - thank you to all who've participated with us, both locally and from a distance. May God continue to bless us, transform us and reveal miracles through his Word at work in our lives.
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...But here’s the interesting thing about these two stories. They are incredibly accessible. Nicodemus was a scholar and minister – but that isn’t what made him able to believe…in fact, he seemed much more confused than the Samaritan woman had been! The metaphors are incredibly common – birth and water.


The first story is about a man; the second about a woman. There is no preferred gender in the Christian life.


The first story takes place in the city, the second on the outskirts of a small town. Geography has no bearing on perception or attitude.


Nicodemus is a respectable member of a strictly orthodox sect of the Pharisees; the woman is a disreputable member of the despised Samaritans. Racial background, religious identity, and moral track record are neither here nor there in matters of spirituality.


The man is named; the woman unnamed. Reputation and standing in the community are not important.


Nicodemus opens their conversation with a spiritual comment; the woman allows Jesus to kick things off with a simple question of drawing water. It doesn’t seem to matter who gets things started, Jesus or us, or whether the subject matter is earthly or heavenly.


In both stories there is risk – Nicodemus risks his reputation meeting Jesus, Jesus risks his by speaking to this female Samaritan. So…


A man and a woman

City and country

An insider and an outsider

A professional and a layperson

A respectable man and a disreputable woman

An orthodox and a heretic

One who takes the initiative; one who lets it be taken

On named, the other anonymous

Human reputation at risk; divine reputation at risk


In both stories Jesus is the central character. Everything that happens to bring life has Jesus working in the center of it – Jesus is more active than any one of us; it is Jesus who provides the energy. And this is what life in the Kingdom is about. It is about God. It is about Jesus. It is not about elitism. It is not about looking right, smelling right or dressing right. It is Jesus himself that is at work to introduce everyone to this kingdom.

2 comments:

TGirlsRock said...

This forty days has brought me closer to God for sure. I plan on continuing to read and strengthen my relationship with Him. He spoke to me in many ways. Thank you for the challenge and most excellent way of making a new habit.
wt

Heidi said...

I can't wait to see where this next journey into scripture takes us....I know the last few weeks have been AMAZING@