Sunday 7th March - Do you Understand?

Opening words: John 4:21-23

“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."

Today's service has been prepared by Pastor Julie Newitt who has this week received her covid vaccination. It is a releif to know that most of our congreagation have now been vaccinated and we are hopeful that all will stay well as restrictions are eased so that we can soon meet again for social reasons as well as enhanced worhip when we can again sing in public.

Hymn 1076 Jesus be the centre


Holy God, as we meet together today, we ask that you renew our love for you. Open our eyes to see fresh things, open our ears to hear with more clarity, open our minds to recognise new ideas – that we may be willing to grow and change and to become more like your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

O Lord, clear our hearts and minds of all unrighteous clutter.

As we seek to be your Church in our day,

drive out all that is unworthy of you.

Let us think not of human transactions – our losses and gains –

for we gather under the banner of your love

that demands no price but our love in return.

Help us to sacrifice all that we are to your service,

as Jesus sacrificed everything for us.

Lord’s prayer

Hymn 18 All over the world the spirit is moving

Bible Readings:

Exodus 20.1-17 Psalm 19 1 Corinthians 1.18-25 John 2.13-22

Hymn 38 As we are gathered

Comment on Readings

Let’s face it, people don’t always understand what we’ve said. Can you think of times when you thought something was really clear – that you had agreed what you were going to do – but, when it came to it, what happened wasn’t what you were expecting? It’s often only with hindsight that we truly understand.

As I indicated last week you have to explain things at least three times to students before they actually get it and even then, they don't. Sometimes people don't listen hard enough to be able to understand what is being said. It's not just the listening, it's working it through in your brain to try and attempt to understand, but in this case, Jesus was saying when He was in the temple scattering the tables that He could rebuild it in three days. You can imagine the disciples thinking really, this is Solomon’s Temple, the one that he built that was great that was magnificent that took years of hard labour, how could Jesus rebuild it in three days? they were confused, they did not understand.

It had been the same when Jesus had told them he would die, the passage we looked at last weekend that took place at Caesarea Philippi, it just didn’t make sense, why would Jesus talk about dying and why would he talk now about raising the temple in three days. Jesus was gently leading them and so He told them of His death and now here His resurrection, Jesus will always guide us into an understanding of Him.

It was only after his death and resurrection that they put two and two together and made the connections with other things he had said. Jesus wasn’t talking about the building in Jerusalem: he was speaking about his own body. Although early Christians loved meeting in the Temple to pray, they also quickly realised that they didn’t need a place to be close to God because Jesus was now the ‘place’ where they could make that connection. It was still hard to explain to other people and still is today. Paul found this, as he wrote in 1 Corinthians ‘for the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’. Jesus’ death as a criminal seems really stupid until you understand the whole story.

Our Lent study this week was of the woman at the well in Samaria, but the reason why I'm sharing this is because during the course of her conversation with Jesus she talks about worshipping God in spirit and in truth. We did spend some time looking at these words and questioning what that actually meant. But it links beautifully with this passage here, for what Jesus is actually saying is that we don't really need the temple/church, because we can worship Him anywhere and everywhere. This Samaritan woman had a greater understanding of Jesus and His mission than the disciples!

Let's just pause and look at this remarkable story that we focused on in our Lent Study, Jesus is on his way to Galilee and He takes a detour, a shorter route actually, to Sychar and as he rests at the well sending his disciples off to get food, so it is this woman comes to draw water. She comes at that time because no other woman wishes to be seen with her given her dubious past. Talking to a woman and a Samaritan broke many Jewish customs, but as we have seen Jesus looked at the person and treated everyone as an individual. And so began this conversation with this woman, a conversation that would effectively change her entire life and through her the entire village.

The woman was like an empty jar, but she left the well full of living water having spent time with Jesus. She literally ran into the town to tell the people about the Messiah that she had found, the life-giving water was already bubbling up and flowing out through her into others. It took some time for the woman to understand what Jesus was talking about, but when she realised and understood who He was then she literally bubbled over. She understood God because first God understood her. And here really is the crux of the matter, God knows is so intimately the He has written our names on the palm of his hand and every hair on our head is numbered, we are forever on God's mind and there is no moment when his care falters. He is always here and always will be and because of that we can worship Him in spirit and in truth not just in this building but wherever we find ourselves every single day, this is the miracle of his resurrection and the outpouring of his Holy Spirit.

Just as the disciples did not understand Jesus in the Temple, it can be like that for us too. Do we understand it all? Have we made all the connections? Being a follower of Jesus means recognising that we are on a journey where we need to allow time and God’s wisdom, to guide us. We are not fully formed. We are growing into the knowledge of God. Even the disciples had to work it out over time, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Recognising that we are not fully formed, that we are under construction, is when we begin to rely on God rather than ourselves. Have we realised that? Do we allow others the space and time to grow and develop?

We are the body of Christ, each of us a stone in the Temple (Church), literally living stones, that build the Kingdom of God. We need to spend time talking with Jesus as the woman did and then we will come into the understanding of all that He is telling us. Then, like the woman we too will worship Him in Spirit and in truth and will be filled with the living water (Holy Spirit) that will flow out from us and effect the world that we live in.


Hymn 151 For Im building a people of power


Father God, we adore you for your patience with your wayward children; for bearing with us when our understanding is skewed and our behaviour wrong.

Jesus, we adore you for being with us always, your humanity entwined with ours; for showing us the way in your life and through the Word. Holy Spirit, we adore you for working through us despite our failings; for living in us and enabling us with a strength greater than our own. Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are wisdom in our world; you flow through creation and consciousness. Our attempts to house you in bricks and mortar are foolish. Come to us as we gather here within this church made to honour you, and lift the stones from our hearts, so that we may be your Church in word and in deed.

Lord of the universe, we pray for our world broken by persecution, warfare and strife. We commend to you the Uighur people in China, the people of Myanmar, the people of Yemen.

We pray for those affected by the huge earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis in New Zealand.

You desire harmony within and between nations; you yearn for everyone to know security and safety.

Lord of the world and the church: bring healing and peace.

Lord of the poor and the rich, we pray for those who live and labour in developing countries paid less than the amount they need to survive. We commend to your tender love those who are exploited, children who are paid pennies, those who work in sweatshops.

You desire justice for all people; you yearn for all people to be treated fairly and equitably.

Lord of the world and the church: bring healing and peace.

Lord of the doctor and the patient,

we pray for our world at this time of pandemic.

We commend to you those who are suffering as a result of Covid-19;

those who are working to combat the Brazilian mutation; those who are frightened and stressed out.

You desire wholeness and health for all people; you yearn for an end to the pandemic.

Lord of the world and the church: bring healing and peace.

Lord of the chapel and the cathedral, we pray for all places of worship throughout the world. We commend to you caretakers and cleaners, treasurers and guides.

You desire holiness in your children and in the places in which they worship.

Lord of the world and the church: bring healing and peace.

Lord of all in need, we bring to you the prayers of our hearts. We commend to you those about whom we are especially concerned, praying for…

You desire that your children care for one another.

Lord of the world and the church: bring healing and peace.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

We pray for those on our prayer list.

Hymn 799 All I once held dear

Grace - the congregation will say this together while look around at all who are present.

Extra music just because … King of kings