A Bible Reading: John 4. 19 - 24 “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.”
A Thought As responsible parents, we taught our children from very young that they must tell the truth. It didn’t matter what mess they got themselves into, we would always be there to help them sort things out if they only told the truth. That principle has stood them in good stead through into their adult lives.
In a church context, it has been said that we don’t tell lies, but we sing many. In worship it is so easy to go through a hymn or song singing the words but not really taking them in, and we often sing words that we might not really mean. Look at the words of a hymn like
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus’ name.”
It is so easy to put our trust in other things - in money for sustaining our day to day lives, or the NHS when we are sick, or in our own ability to deal with life’s challenges.
“Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord to thee;
take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.”
This is a challenging hymn to sing with honesty, requiring a deep level of commitment on our part. It continues with ‘take my hands… my feet…my voice…my silver and gold…my will…my love. I know the words well, I like the sentiment, but do I sing it on auto-pilot rather than with sincerity? The same can apply to the liturgy too.
In Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well, what began as a simple request for a glass of water ended up with a discussion about worship. The Samaritans worshipped on Mount Gerizim whereas the Jews worshipped in Jerusalem. Jesus points out that it’s not where but how we worship that is important. It is the attitude with which we worship that is crucial. The Father seeks those who will worship in spirit and in truth. Worship doesn’t necessarily have to be super trendy or in a particular style, but it should be authentic and sincere.
Worship is central to Christian faith and church life, but it is so much more than just turning up to church for an hour on a Sunday. Worship is one of the few things we do on earth that will continue in heaven for all eternity, so let us determine to worship with integrity in spirit and in truth here and now and fully mean what we say and sing.
A Prayer Living Lord, may we worship you with honesty, may we know your presence with us, and bring you the honour and glory that is due your name. Amen.