Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.PSALM 95
Come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before God's presence with thanksgiving
and raise a loud shout to the LORD with psalms.
For you, LORD, are a great God,
and a great ruler above all gods.
In your hand are the caverns of the earth;
the heights of the hills are also yours.
The sea is yours, for you made it,
and your hands have molded the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
For the LORD is our God, and we are the people of God's pasture
and the sheep of God's hand.
Oh, that today you would hear God's voice!
"Harden not your hearts,
as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert.
There your ancestors tested me,
they put me to the test, though they had seen my works.
Forty years I loathed that generation, saying,
'The heart of this people goes astray;
they do not know my ways.'
Indeed I swore in my anger,
'They shall never come to my rest.'"
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth,
for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Shame on you!
Do you remember those words ringing in your ear at one time or another, probably more so in your youth, for something you did or said? I do.
Sometimes it was all in jest, but more often than not it was for something I either said or may have done. Whatever, and from what I can remember, my actions were undoubtedly intentional and more so, an indication that we all have a flaw inside of us (called sin) which causes us to do things and say things we should not.
Hopefully, as I have grown older I have put some of those shenanigans behind me.
I sometimes wonder if shame isn’t remembered more than a good deed.
On the surface, if you read Psalm 95 (the Psalm for this weekend) it looks like God may be shaming an entire people for their hardness of heart. Some of us carry an image of God that’s similar to those who have shamed us throughout our lives.
When we look deeper, God is not the source of our shame but the one who looks past our guilt and sees our worth. “For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”
Have you ever arrived at a hotel or some important event only to learn that they have no record of your reservation or your name even listed on the list of attendees at this so called gala event, despite invitation in hand? Since they are unable or unwilling to explain the situation, we might resort to a bit of browbeating that we later regret when it’s discovered we never made a reservation or RSVP’d them in the first place.
Whatever the outcome, we’ll slink out with heads bowed, ashamed at our performance, with our ears still ringing at our meaningless threats against their establishment and incompetence.
In this weekend’s gospel reading from John 4, we read the familiar story of the “woman at the well.”
Now here’s someone who had quite a bit to be ashamed. She’s a Samaritan woman talking to a man at a well, drawing water at the wrong time of the day. She stands face to-face with God in Jesus Christ who tells her “everything she has done.”
We will stand face to face with God, and though we may be ashamed, God will not shame us but see us for our true selves and love us.
When we meet Christ face-to-face we will be able to say, “Yes, there is a whole pile of things I was ashamed of, and thankfully, you have wiped them all away.
I’ll look forward to seeing you in worship.
As we move through Martin Luther's Small Catechism, we plunge deeper and deeper into some of the great Christian truths: Who is God? What kind of a God do we have? What does God expect of us? What can we expect from God? Where can we go for help? And once there, what will we find? The Lord's Prayer will be the focus of our next Wednesday evening worship experience on March 22. Before we get there, however, we'll explore Jesus' prayer this Sunday morning at 10:20 and on Wednesday morning at 11:00. It's well worth studying, especially since we say it every Sunday morning. And many of us repeat it daily. So come join us. We'd love to have you!