Orthodox Christian Church of the Holy Spirit
Orthodox Church in America - Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania
145 N. Kern St Beavertown PA, 17813
Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

  Christ is risen!  Indeed He is risen!

In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

“’But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.’”

This dialogue between our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ and the Samaritan woman at the well, whom we know as St. Photini (the “enlightened one”), is the longest recorded conversation in the Gospels between Jesus and another.  It is, by the way, no chance meeting.  Why?  Because the Son of God and Saviour of the world is about His Father’s business ever since His conception in the virginal womb of His Mother (Lk. 2:49).  Even as a youth, Jesus was found in the Temple engaging the Teachers of the Law so that all those who heard Him were amazed at His answers (Lk. 2:47).  We find similar such reactions throughout His earthly ministry on a number of different occasions. 

So, from the moment our Lord determined to go to Galilee by way of Samaria (which, in the case of most Jews would have been avoided altogether), He was clearly on a search and rescue mission, seeking souls – the soul of this woman – to worship His Father in Spirit and in Truth.  It seems to me this is the point of His conversation with the woman and the crux of the whole encounter between them: that the Father seeks those souls to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.  This is the goal of our Lord encountering her – the true worship of the Father. 

This true worship, then, is the goal of our salvation as well, if not its very means!  Jesus is about the Father’s business of restoring fallen men and women to their original destiny and glory in Eden – to make us once more priests before God who offer up true, Spirit-filled, Spirit-inspired, Spirit-led worship.  In other words, God is calling this woman – and all of us – back to our true roots, to our true creation in His image according to His likeness (Ep. 4:24; Co. 3:10).  For if we can believe this, “we become what we worship,” then it matters who and what we worship.  The danger of untrue worship is that we will become what we were not intended by God to be.  This is the importance of the First Commandment, “’Thou shalt have no other gods before Me’” (Ex. 20:3; Dt. 5:7).  It was false worship that the devil was trying all along to tempt our Lord into in the wilderness when He was subjected to the devil’s tyranny for 40 days.  According to St. Matthew’s account, this was the third and final culminating temptation, a direct frontal assault by the evil one summoning our Lord to worship him at which our Lord sharply and forcibly rebuked His tempter, “’Get thee hence, Satan!  For it is written: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve”’” (Dt. 6:13; 10:20; Mt. 4:8-10; Lk. 4:5-8).  It matters, then, who or what we worship because “we become what we worship.”  True worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth.

Worship, beloved, is what we have been created for by God, not because God needs it as though He would be less without it (for He lacks nothing) (Ac. 17:25), but because we need it.  With Adam and Eve, we were created to serve God in His Temple, to find our fulfillment through praise and worship of the true and living God Who is Spirit and Truth.  We find this played out in the Exodus account.  When God delivers His ancient people of Israel, our forefathers and mothers, for what purpose does He do so?  Through the voice of the Prophet Moses, God commands Pharaoh to “’Let My people go, that they may serve [worship] Me . . . .”” (Ex. 3:18; 5:1; 7:16; 8:1, 20; 9:1, 13; 10:3).  The showdown between God and Pharaoh, then, is over the worship of God, of God sanctifying Israel – of setting them apart – so that they may serve God and Him only.  We find this as well in the concluding book of the Bible – the Revelation.  In Revelation, the context and the goal of St. John’s vision is the Liturgy – the heavenly and eternal worship of God.  The book concludes definitively with the coming of the New Jerusalem, the heavenly Bride, in whom the worship of God is paramount. 

“’[T]he Father is seeking such to worship Him,’” Jesus tells the Samaritan woman.  Our Lord guided this soul artfully in pastoral conversation so that she revealed to Him her brokenness, her thirst unquenched by all of her life’s strivings, no matter how many relationships she burned through.  Her life revealed her failed pursuits and her isolation – all fruit of her worship of false gods, whether it was the broken promises of former lovers who had vowed true love or the convenience of serial cohabitations that proved empty and barren.  Her life was in shambles.  But, Jesus comes to heal and to restore her through worship of the Father in Spirit and in Truth.  True worship will heal her – as it does even us – and all who surrender themselves to the Master and Son of God, the Saviour of the world.  For He and He alone gives soul-quenching, life-healing waters of grace – the living waters of grace ever-flowing from the Fountain of the Holy Spirit in Whom we worship God the Father through His Son Who is the Truth and the Life and the Way to the Father (Jn. 14:6). 

To worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth, beloved, is to be in Christ God.  He is the key of her salvation and of our salvation, our healing, our restoration, our sanctification, our union with God.  Photini comes to believe in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.  He leads her to the Father, and as the Great High Priest, He leads her to worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth.  True worship, then, centers on and revolves around God the Father, God the Word, and God the Holy Spirit, “and these Three are One,” says St. John the Theologian, and They bear witness (1 Jn. 5:6-10).      

Jesus tells Photini that there is coming a time when worship of the Father will cease on both the mountain in Samaria she is familiar with and the Temple mount in Jerusalem, but rather “’true worshipers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth; . . . .’”  If not on these mountains, then, just where will such worship be offered?  The answer is the Church, the Body of Christ, the Bearer of Truth and the abode of the Spirit.  The Church will replace the temple of Samaria and the Temple in Jerusalem.  The Church is the new Temple of the Body of Christ spoken of by our Lord.  “Jesus answered . . ., ‘Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’  Then said the Jews, ‘Forty and six years was this Temple in building, and wilt Thou raise it up in three days?’  But He spoke of the Temple of His Body” (Jn. 2:19-21).  St. Paul tells us, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly [festal gathering] and Church of the firstborn who are registered in Heaven, . . . .” (Hb. 12:18-24).  The Church is the “Body of Christ,” Sacred Scripture assures us, “the fullness of Him Who fills all in all” (Ep. 1:22-23; Co. 1:15-20; 2:9-10).

Beloved, as the Church we hear and read this conversation of our Lord with the Samaritan woman in light of our ascent up the mountain of Great and Holy Pentecost.  It is the Holy Spirit, “the Lord, the Giver of Life” (Nicene Creed), the Spirit of Truth promised by Jesus to be bestowed to His followers, Who will dwell in them as His Temple, lead them, and enliven them (Jn. 7:37-39; 14:16-17, 23, 26; 16:7, 13; 20:22; 1 Cr. 6:19-20; 2 Cr. 6:16). 

All of salvation history’s trajectory, therefore, has been aimed for the Day of Pentecost, for the sending and receiving of the divine fire of the Holy Spirit Who forms the Church as the Body of Christ and living Temple of the Saviour Himself.  As St. Peter tells us, “[Y]ou . . ., as living stones [of the living Stone Himself], are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pe. 2:4-5). 

The Church, beloved, is Jacob’s well from which flows the Life-giving waters promised by Jesus.  She is the fullness of Jesus Christ in which the worship of the Father in Spirit and in Truth occurs.  She is unencumbered by geographic or ethnic boundaries.  She is found throughout the whole world inhabited by every culture, nation, tribe, and language.  She truly is a house of prayer for all nations.  She is the locus of the Holy Spirit’s activity for all souls to the glory of the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.  It is here, in this Liturgy, the pinnacle of our spiritual sacrifice, that together we implore the Father through His Son to “send down the Holy Spirit  upon us and upon these Gifts [of bread and wine] here offered” so that in our eating and drinking of the true Body and true Blood of Christ our God we may partake of “the communion of Thy Holy Spirit” and “the fulfillment of the Kingdom of Heaven” (Anaphora).  And, at the conclusion of our Liturgy, what does this assembly of the firstborn sing but this: “We have seen the true Light.  We have received the heavenly Spirit.  We have found the true Faith, worshipping the undivided Trinity, Who has saved us.” 

And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. . . . But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.’

 

Beloved, to be in Christ is to be in the Church; to be in the Church is to be in Christ.  She is the wellspring and fountain of the Holy Spirit and dwelling of the Truth (1 Tm. 3:15).   

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.  Amen.                  

Christ is risen!  Indeed He is risen!

PROPERS:

 

Ac. 11:19-26, 29-30

Jn. 4:5-42      

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