A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."
(His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."
The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?
Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?"
Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,
but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life."
The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water." [...]
The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem."
Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
-John 4: 7-15; 19-21
Growing up, my sister and I watched Boy Meets World. There was a great Christmas episode where the main character and his family host his high school sweetheart and begin to explore and collide over one another's deeply cherished Christmas traditions... eggnog versus mulled cider, real/fake tree, etc. Just when the young man thinks their differences may be too much, he gets a Christmas Carol future peek and sees his sad life without her. He begins to see that compromise is a beautiful part of tradition, that love and relationships depend on meeting on common ground, accepting new ideas, letting go of others, and finding a blend that helps form a new unity called family.
If prompted for an example of the difficult divide of Jews and Samaritans, most of us would point to the story of the Good Samaritan. However, it's easy to forget the story above about the woman Jesus meets. There were significant divides in those two parts of a family that worshiped the same God. The Samaritans, for instance, had 12 commandments instead of 10, different practices, holy sites. Part of their conversation highlights one of those differences. Her people worshiped on Mount Horeb, while the Jews worshiped in Jerusalem. She clearly sees those as her contemporaries did, insurmountable obstacles of tradition. Jesus saw a future where common ground of love and grace would bring them back together, and united with the world through himself.
I was reminded of that this week in our inaugural drive-in worship. I stood on the scaffold and looked out at the people I love and serve. Beyond those cars was the steeple of our church, where we once worshiped and will again one day, and across the street, the steeple of our Methodist brothers and sisters. I never imagined leading worship in a parking lot, for all the places I have been and worshiped. But that's just when Christ appears to offer living water to drink and open our eyes and imagination. What will our future as the Church be? What will the future of JCPC be? It will depend on us to find our way forward together as God calls us to a future we cannot yet imagine, common ground, blended ideas, compromise, and creativity. It will either be exactly as we hope and imagine now, or it will surprise us as we become Christ's family of new traditions blended together. If you catch me up there on the scaffold grinning just a little, I'm curious about where God will lead us next, together.