Today’s reading from John speaks to the proper worship of God: whether it is in Samaria on Mt. Gerizim, or in the Temple at Jerusalem (or neither, as Jesus asserts will soon be the case). What John is really saying is that only God can worship God. That would seem to leave us humans to “worship what we do not know” (John 4:22). But John goes on to say that the Father seeks humans who are like him — full of the Spirit and truth — to worship him; moreover, he prepares and gathers these people just as a sower and reaper plant and harvest an abundant field.
For the Samaritan woman who meets Jesus at Jacob’s well, and for those townsfolk who hear her testimony and believe that Jesus is the Messiah, this teaching meant that half-castes (like the Samaritans) and sexual misfits (like the woman) were the sought-after worshipers by the Father. In our own day we have to remember that no claim to superiority (racial, sexual, national, doctrinal) will curry favor with God. Our fathers may have worshipped on those “mountains” but the day is coming and is already here when we will not.
If God is spirit and God must be worshipped in spirit, then only one who is spirit (that is to say, only one who is God) can worship God. Thus, it would be impossible for humans to worship God, if not for the One who is God-made-man, Jesus, who is called Emmanuel, which means “the God-who-dwells-with-us.” Because of Jesus we can stop worshiping on the mountains our ancestors worshipped on, and, instead, worship God in spirit and truth.
Preached by the Rev. Jake Dell on March 19, 2017 at Holy Trinity Church Inwood.