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River of Life, Part 2

• Brenda Salter-McNeil

This week, Woodland Hills Church truly had a blessing! Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter-McNeil came back to preach the Word of God and finish up her two-part series “River of Life,” from her November 2004 visit. She opened up by singing “Spirit of the Living God” and reminding us that it’s only by God’s Holy Spirit that we can be empowered to do anything of Kingdom value.

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This week, Woodland Hills Church truly had a blessing! Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter-McNeil came back to preach the Word of God and finish up her two-part series “River of Life,” from her November 2004 visit. She opened up by singing “Spirit of the Living God” and reminding us that it’s only by God’s Holy Spirit that we can be empowered to do anything of Kingdom value. She was finishing up the wonderful sermon from November 14, 2004, named “River of Life.” We were brought back to the passage of Scripture (John 4:1-42) that details the account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.

Very briefly, Rev. Brenda recapped 4 of the 9 principles that were in this story:
1. Reconciliation requires a divine mandate
2. Reconciliation requires a real need for people different from us.
3. Reconciliation requires intentional interaction with diverse people
4. Reconciliation requires risk taking.

After this, she discussed 5 more extremely important points:

5. Reconciliation requires counter-cultural social action
Rev. Brenda reminded us just how very counter-cultural Jesus was being with his interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well. It was anything but a causal affair! He broke about every social, religious, and cultural taboo in the book, given his status as a Jewish rabbi. We are reminded from this aspect of the story that it may well be that we to will have to “swim upstream” when it comes to our own spheres of influence. We may have to stand up to social, religious, or cultural norms that align themselves against the spread of God’s Kingdom.

6. Reconciliation requires relinquishing power.
Jesus is seen asking the Samaritan woman for a drink of water. Imagine. The very Son of God, who’s performed miracles involving food and drink before, asking for sustenance. Instead of trying to “razzle dazzle” her with miracles, we see the supreme Helper placing Himself in a position to be helped. Rev. Brenda used this account to note that, despite the temptation to solely want to use their power and resources to help others, reconcilors must be willing to give up that power in order to empower others. This helps immensely in providing a space of common ground from whence discussion and understanding can take place.

7. Reconciliation requires authentic spirituality
The Samaritan woman begins to detail all of the religious and theological reasons why she and Jesus should not be in conversation. Jesus wisely turns the conversation on its head by stressing the real nature of worship: genuine spiritual openness before God. Rev. Brenda talked to us very candidly about how worship is found in entering an intimately open place with God, and not just in certain forms of music. She also stressed that authentic spirituality is the only way genuine reconciliation can take place, for without the Spirit of the Living God it will be impossible for us.

8. Reconciliation requires reciprocity
As Jesus asked the woman for some water, he offered to give her something in return. When he spoke of “water”, she could not see what he could be able to gather without a bucket. The gift that Jesus wanted to give her was not what she thought it would be like. Everyone has something to offer the Kingdom of God, and, at times, that offering may be drastically different than what we would expect. However, this makes the giving no less precious…and no less helpful to demonstrating the glorious diversity of the Kingdom.

9. Reconciliation requires bridging people
After her amazing experience with Jesus, an interesting thing occurs. The Samarian woman does not just go back to her own house, keeping these things to herself. She actually goes back to Samaria and tells other people about her encounter with the Jewish man, Jesus. In so doing, she acts as a bridge-builder between the Jewish and Samaritan peoples. Rev. Brenda used this to express how we can operate in our own spheres of influence. We can be people who link our own contexts to those of other people.

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Topics: Reconciliation


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Focus Scripture:

  • John 4:1-42

    Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

    Now he had to go through Samaria. 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 flocks and herds?"

    Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink 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.

    Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something."

    But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about."

    Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?"

    “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don't you have a saying, 'It's still four months until harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now those who reap draw their wages, even now they harvest the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor."

    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.”

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