Psalms 95: 1-7
JOHN 4: 4-26

March 15, 2020

Come let’s sing out to the Lord!!  Let’s raise a joyful shout to the rock of our salvation!”

Challenging words during this time of crisis.  Challenging words as we enter these next few weeks of great unknown, fear, and confusion.  Challenging words during good times and most definitely challenging words during times when our human side wants immediate answers and a sense of well being.

Church, our Leadership Team and I made the decision to be here today in worship knowing that many wouldn’t be here.  Hoping that our friends with health conditions or vulnerabilities to illness would be at home.   We chose to be here to consider together where we go as individuals and as a church.   We knew we needed to again be reminded of the LIVING WATER that we all get through Jesus Christ.

God never promised that we’d be driving around in luxury automobiles, filling our mouths with the finest filet mignon, and never having a single ache nor pain.  God promised hope of eternal life … God offers us a reward in heaven and God continuously calls us to enter into the embrace of God’s arms.

Since the news broke out of China and then as the COVID 19 virus made its way to Italy, France, and here to the United States I have thought about how incredibly fortunate I have been throughout my life to never had any true worries.   I have thought about the roofs I have lived under, the cars I have driven, and the array of people I have called friends and how those friends like myself have always had roofs over their heads, meals on the table and a sense of safety that gave them and gave me an easy reason to put God and Christ and faith on the shelf because all was good … all would be good … human goals, human desires, and controlling my time was our whimsy and totally within our personal control.

That wasn’t the truth with my mom and dad.   Born in the 1920’s their lives were slapped with the Great Depression followed by a war that threatened the globe and cost so many lives.  My parents’ formative years were wrought with danger and the unknown.   I think about my friends in Africa who have lived through wars and terrorism at a level far exceeding what we Americans have lived with during my life where it has been easy to not put your life at risk in battle … the rich could escape … actually only those not volunteering for service were safe from the wars of the last two decades.  I consider those I have met who have travelled from their homelands to escape torture and violence that particularly threatened their female children … girls like my Megan and Colleen … moms and dads who have walked to save their kids from the worse possible violence coming to our borders with a desperate need of rescue, hope, and opportunity.  And, I have been comfortable; you have been comfortable; and we have been comfortable.

The truth this morning church is that we are all desperately in need of drinking in the Living Water that Jesus Christ provides to us.   As the Coronavirus makes its way down the Turnpike and across our interstates and into our cities, villages, and rural communities … our comfort is being disrupted and our safety is at peril but our need for Jesus Christ has not changed.  But, perhaps over the next few weeks when we become more isolated from the normal expectations of our schedule we will again find the time to turn to God.  To experience Jesus.  To welcome the Holy Spirit.

I want to tell you church that I am not afraid!  I am not depressed!  I am confident in the future but I am also reaching for the hands of my Savior.  Jesus told the Samaritan woman about the living water … how life springs from the Son of God.  We need that water.

So, we worship together today and we definitely are planning to worship together here in this church of God on Palm Sunday and Easter morning … we will adjust and adapt.  This church … your church … will adapt.  We will use technology to continue to worship God every Sunday morning and we will stay connected as a family including the good old fashioned telephone; I have asked our leadership team to volunteer to each take on a number of church members to call.

This week, I have started to have a time of prayer, worship as well as providing an update every morning usually at 930 on FACEBOOK and ZOOM I hope that you will join me each day.  Our Sunday School Superintendent and I are working to put in place an Online Sunday School classroom … an old fashioned ONE ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE where our church family can sit with their kids to get a lesson about God and Christ.  Neither are perfect but we want to make sure this loving church called St. Paul’s shows the love even in the days when we can’t travel here to be together.

Our worship services in whatever format that they are will be live online using FACEBOOK and ZOOM today, next Sunday, and the next and the next and continuing.  All you need is a computer, a Smartphone, or a tablet plus the Internet.  Tuesday morning Bible Study and Wednesday evening Bible study will be happening using ZOOM.   We will be together.

When I consider God’s overwhelming love for all today’s Gospel lesson frequently springs to mind because here is Jesus violating all the codes of behavior for a Jewish man of faith in His times.   He is conversing with a Samaritan woman … He is directly challenging her … she is living with a man after having had 5 husbands and yet Jesus doesn’t deny her His love … He does not deny her God’s living water because of what some humans might define as being sinful and living in sin …. I continue to be saddened that some would start their own churches to vilify others for sins they define as reasons to deny these humans a role in God’s church yet here is a woman whom all of the religious powers would reject and Jesus gives her the Holy Water of life.  He reminds her and friends this reminder is for each of us this morning and tomorrow morning and the next morning …

Jesus tells her … “The time is coming and is here!  When true worshippers will worship in spirit and the truth.  The Father looks for those who worship Him this way!  God is spirit and it is necessary to worship God in spirit and truth!”

Church … the 21st century American Christian … the Convenient Christians … and perhaps even some of us have put aside our connection with the Creator leaving God as an after thought. … worshiping when it suits us … and not allowing our worship to be a place where our spirit merges with the holy and where our minds and souls accept the truth of God and Christ’s reality!  In the days that are coming … in these days when we may be in our homes … St. Paul’s will offer a connection but it is time to feel our vulnerabilities and also once again wake up to the truth of God and Christ!

Church are you thirsty this morning for the living water?   Are you in need of the revival of your spirit in God’s truth?  I know I am!  I no longer want to be taken down by those who push lies and division on us … I no longer want to feel the need to be in a race to gain human achievements … I need the peace … I welcome the assurance … I am again this morning a man in need of a Savior!

This week in preparation for the Bible study at Shepherd’s Farm I listened to a song written by Matt Maher that the praise team at my old church loved to sing.  It’s called HOLD US TOGETHER … friends, as we pause to consider where we are going later today, tomorrow, Tuesday, Wednesday and whatever number of days it will take us to move beyond this pandemic … and we will move beyond it … hear the words of the songwriter:

He’s waiting for you.  Knocking at your door!  Every moment of truth when your heart hits the floor.  And, when you’re on your knees now see that …


As your pastor I am not letting go of you … our God and Savior continue to hold us tight.  But friends, TODAY is the FIRST DAY of the REST of YOUR LIFE and I am asking you to do a few things …

First, worship with us online … join us in the morning if you can.  Be part of the Bible studies.  Next Sunday at 930 connect with our church here in West Deptford so you and I can be in communion with God.

Second, be part of the solution in whatever way you can.  Don’t hoard, help our neighbors, help our church family, and shine the light of Christ online in your social media and in your conversations.

I am in daily conversation with health officials and government officials.  The Coronavirus is real not fake news … don’t spend your every waking hour watching FOX NEWS or CNN because then all you will hear are stories about the virus because yes, this is the news story of our generation … it is our global war that is impacting every corner of the world so of course the media will be updating us constantly.

Instead … open up your Bible, put on some music, spend time in conversation with your family and friends.  Read a good book.  Watch a classic movie.  Notice the birds in your yard.

And, hear the psalmist “Come let’s worship and bow down!  Let’s kneel before the Lord, our maker.  He is our God and we are the people of God’s pasture, the sheep in God’s hands.”  Allow God to get you to lie down in green pastures and go beside the still waters.  Allow your soul to be restored and follow God’s paths of righteousness.  Don’t fear any evil and know God is with you.  And, in your quiet moments take in the living water that God offers through Jesus Christ.  Rediscover what Jesus calls us to be through His Gospels.

We are a strong loving church and together we will worship God and we will get through this challenge of our lifetime together, united in our faith in God and Christ.


© 2017- St. Paul's United Methodist Church, West Deptford, NJ