From here on, worshipping the Father will not be a matter of the right place but with the right heart.
A Samaritan woman who had had five husbands - who knew what it was to suffer - met the Jewish Rabbi and troublemaker, Jesus, at a well – a well steeped in dark and messy history spanning hundreds of years between her people and his people and more. And at this well, they talked about living water, worship, spirit, and truth.
She was not an incoherent woman begging for grace. As we talked about back at the beginning of this series, the Samaritan woman had most likely experienced incredible loss. Of course, we can assume what “kind” of woman she was. When we read her story recorded in John’s book like we would read a buzz feed article, we quickly pop her into a box and category without digging deep into her story. But here’s the thing. The Biblical Text is not a rule book. It’s a nuanced, living, breathing, sacred collection of stories full of hyperbole and parables and poetry that can only really take credible form when we begin to see it through the eyes of its writers and the context of its times, politically, socially and spiritually.
I picture the Samaritan woman, dark hair flowing down her shoulders, equally as dark eyes full of heartache and loss; her body weary of shame and suffering, her heart longing for family and connectedness… She had had at least 6 relationships (the previous 5 and her current one). Was she brokenhearted? Complicated? Messy? Perhaps. Did her former husbands die? Did she have any children? What kind of support did she have? What did she think about as she moved throughout her days? What burdens and joys did she carry on her back as she walked to the well that day?
And that WELL. The one that had seen so much war and peace and blood and joy and tension and unity and idolatry and repentance; Jacob's well, that represented the melting pot of humanity and the depth of our collective experience. A meeting place for one and all to drink and satiate thirst… John was saying something when he was careful to name what well Jesus sat at alone waiting for a woman he should have nothing to do with. (I love Jesus and his rule-breaking ways…).
The Samaritan woman was thirsty for love and belonging. We see this in the history of her relationships. She was a truth seeker, peering through her suffering to glimpse something beyond what she had and knew. We can see this in how she interacted with Jesus. Culturally, the two were enemies and had no business speaking to each other in the manner in which they did. But, Jesus asked her for a drink, and she responded. She asked him questions, she wanted to know more. That in and of itself is an incredible picture of worship. Her day (and life) was divinely interrupted, and she embraced that interruption with her spirit, and her truth – heart and story.
I often find myself living outside of the realm of spirit and truth; in denial of the underlying realities of my life. I go through the motions without sinking my heart into moments, situations and people; going with the flow, carried by a culture that makes my decisions for me. But when I worship; when I take this moment and submit it to the awareness of God’s presence (even if I don’t feel it); when I consider the truth of my own story, when I get good and honest with myself before Christ, I engage in that spirit-truth realm. Sometimes I sing about it; sometimes I pray about it, sometimes I’m silent about it, other times I talk about it or write about it.
It’s all worship.
There’s no right place, right time, right person, right words to worshipping. There is just worship.
It all belongs, too. All the truth. The truths witnessed by Jacob’s well, the truth of the Samaritan Woman's pain and suffering, and the truth of Jesus culture-rule-breaking ways: it’s in this mish mash of experiences, histories, and stories that Jesus answers a seeker's questions of whether or not she can worship.
And he said yes.