Friday, October 31, 2008

Trunk or Treat

Today was a fun day. I took the day off from work and Rick and I spent it getting together our trunk display for the trunk or treat for the kids at church. Even though I don't celebrate Halloween I always tried to do something special for my kids when they were little. Sometimes we had a party at home and sometimes they dressed in non scary outfits and got candy in their Grandma's neighborhood. So today was fun. We centered our trunk around the woman at the well. We took our shed trash can (cardboard barrel) and covered it with paper that I had drawn rocks on to make it look like a well. Rick printed "Jesus is the living water" stickers to put on some bottled water which we placed in the "well". I pulled a story on the woman at the well and Rick made it into a booklet with a picture of Jesus and the woman at the well. We also had candy in a can to look like a water pot. We made a bright sign to hang that said "Living Water". We then covered the back of the seat and floor with leafy sheets, put a big rock in with some fall decorations, hung Biblical desert scenes from the church prop room and hung some white lights. I dressed in a prop robe to be the woman. I didn't know they had prizes, but we won first prize. Pastor James set up games for the kids to play. Thank you Lord for a relaxing day. "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine."

Woman at the Well

Here is a guest post. I found this article on the web while looking up information about the woman at the well. Rick and I are doing this theme for the fall festival. It is a long post but good reading.

Jesus and the Woman at the Well
by Mitch Lewis

John 4:5-42

What do you need?

When I came back from my deployment to Iraq in 2003, I needed a new car … and a couple of new computers. Just a few months prior to my return, however, my needs were much simpler. I didn’t even need a roof over my head, a flush toilet or fresh food. Even a cot, a porta-potty and Unitized Group Rations (UGRs) were luxuries that I could live without if I had to - and did quite often. I could sleep just about anywhere and eat my food from a plastic bag. I didn’t need clean clothes; I just needed to beat the dust out of my uniform. I didn’t need a shower - hot or cold; I just needed to wash the dirt away with a damp cloth, shave and brush my teeth.

And what I needed most of all … in the 100+ degree heat … was water to drink. Any water would do, but water cooler than my own body temperature would be really nice.

Jesus, too, needed a drink of water.

Jesus is leaving the unfriendly environs of Jerusalem. He’s headed from Judea to Galilee and he has to go through Samaria. It’s 75 miles as the crow flies from Jerusalem to Capernaum. Unfortunately, there are no roads like that. Jesus is on at least a hundred-mile road march.

It’s noon. They call it the sixth hour because the day starts at our 6:00 am. He’s been walking for 6 hours, and Jesus arrives at the place called Jacob’s Well.

Jacob’s Well is at a crossroads. Surrounding it are vast fields of wheat. About a mile away is the town of Sychar (formerly called Shechem). The well itself is about a 100 feet deep and lined with rock. Jesus decides to sit and rest at the cross roads while his disciples detour into town to get some food.

The land is filled with Jewish memories. Abraham had pitched his tent there and built his first altar to God. When Jacob returned to the land of promise from his ancestral homeland, he buried his idols there under an oak tree. Jacob eventually bought the land and dug the well. One of Jacob’s daughters was assaulted there, and Jacob’s sons defended her honor by massacring the local residents. Jacob’s bones were buried there when the Israelites came out of Egypt and entered Canaan.

While Jesus is sitting there, a woman comes to the well with a jar for water. Why is she there? The town is about a mile away, it’s the middle of the day, and there is water closer to town. Is she an outcast, as many presume? Or, maybe she’s just getting water for the people working in the nearby fields.

A Drink of Water
The gospel of John is funny. No gospel that emphasizes the deity of Jesus more than John, but also no gospel that emphasizes his humanity more. What’s the shortest verse in the Bible? “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) What is Jesus after a long journey in the midday sun? Tired and thirsty.

Jesus asks the woman for a drink of water. Ordinarily, the rules of hospitality say you honor such a request, but the woman says, “What? Are you talking to me?” Maybe she’s a little snappish because she’s hot and tired, too. Maybe she’s wary because she’s a woman and he’s a man, and the social divide between the genders was very strong. Maybe she’s afraid that she will get in trouble for talking to him. For a woman to be alone with a man who is not her husband is a punishable act in some parts of the world even today. Or maybe she’s afraid that he will do her harm. A woman alone would be very vulnerable. Maybe she’s defiant because she’s a Samaritan and he’s Jewish. Jews and Samaritans didn’t even use the same dishes. That’s what it means when it says Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. An armed force from Judea had even marched into Samaria a hundred years previously and burned down the Samaritan temple. For many reasons, then, the woman is surprised that Jesus expected to have anything to do with her. “Why are you talking to me.”

And then ensues this conversation about water. “You know, I could give you a drink, too” Jesus says. The well is about 100 feet deep, and Jesus has no bucket or rope, so the woman wonders just how Jesus can do this.

Jesus says that he can give her water that she won’t have to fetch every day. He says that he can give her living water, and she likes this idea. That sounds good to her, because she has to tote water back and forth to her home every day: every drop that she drinks, every drop that she uses to cook and clean, every drop that she uses to wash herself or clean the dust off her clothes. It’s the middle of the day, and a hot time to be carrying water.

I can tell you, running water is a great idea! In Iraq, I filled a 5-gallon can every day from the water buffalo sitting in the sun and carried it to my own little spot in whatever shade I could make. I could also usually get dusty box of bottled water to tote back to my truck. I learned something that I didn’t know before: clear plastic bottles in a sunny environment make terrific water heaters. I dreamed of a day when I could walk in my house and turn on a faucet! And dang - water is heavy. What does a five-gallon can of water weigh? I don’t know what the can weighs, but the water weighs about 44 pounds. The woman had to carry her water a lot further than I ever have.

Jesus offers the woman “living water,” which was the best kind. Most water came from cisterns - an open pit into which rain water was directed. And leaves fell. And animals fell into and died. It wasn’t great water. Well water, like this, was a little better. But the best of all was running water, like from a spring. They called it “living water.”

She doesn’t quite believe it and she makes a little fun of Jesus. You don’t have a bucket. How are you going to get any water? Are you greater than Jacob who built this well? Sure, give me some of that living water, mister.

Jesus takes her up on her request, as lame as it is. But of course Jesus wasn’t talking about physical water.

A Spiritual Image
Jesus wasn’t the first one to use the symbol of water to describe spiritual things. The entire Bible is filled with the imagery of water, from the very first page. The spirit of God hovered over the deep. God delivered Noah and his family from the flood. He led the Hebrews through the Sea and gave them water in the desert (that’s the Old Testament reading for today from Exodus 17). He led them across the Jordan into the land of promise.

The Gospel of John is likewise filled with the imagery of water. John baptizes in water. Jesus turns water into wine. Jesus tells Nicodemus that one must be born of water and the spirit. He offers living water to a woman at a well in Samaria. And that’s just the first four chapters.

Jesus heals a man who is waiting for the waters to stir in chapter 5. In chapter 7, he is at the feast of Tabernacles, which featured rituals with water from the pool of Siloam. Here, he proclaimed: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.”He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38) He washes his disciples’ feet in water and from his side water and blood flow after his crucifixion.

With the woman at the well, Jesus uses the image of living water in the same way that the prophet Jeremiah used it: “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water. (2:13)

So we get it, Jesus is using water here as a metaphor, as a symbol. Jesus is saying that there is a human need even more significant that the water we drink, and that he is the one who can fill that spiritual need.

A Living Reality
So, OK, Jesus, let me have it…..

Uh, what does it look like when Jesus is giving us this living water? Do I just raise my hands to the sky, lift my head and soak it in? Does God pour some sort of magical stuff into my soul, and boy, it just makes me feel really good?

The woman didn’t know it, but Jesus was giving her a drink from the moment she walked up. Jesus encountered her on many levels, and he was watering her spirit with every word he spoke.

First, he asked for a drink of well water. A cold cup of water is a spiritual matter. A watered soul learns compassion. There is living water for me in acts of mercy for others.

Jesus spoke to her, a woman, a Samaritan and a person apparently disconnected from her community. Jesus broke down more social barriers than you can imagine. There is living water in our fellowship, in our being one people in Christ, undivided by race or gender. There is living water in Jesus’ gracious openness to all, regardless of circumstances. There is living water in Jesus’ overcoming every form of alienation in our lives.

Jesus spoke to the woman about her husband … her five husbands, that is, and the man that she is living with now who is not her husband. I want to know more, so I can judge. Is she guilty? Is she innocent? Is she a little of both? I’ve heard so many sermons that jump to conclusions here, but we don’t know any more than the text itself says. Whatever the reason for her many marriages, there is surely a story there with heartache, grief, anger, and broken dreams. Whatever her story happened to be, she was certainly a person that had been ground down more than a little bit by life. In his encounter with her, Jesus lifted her life story into the presence of God where forgiveness and healing take place, where hope never fails and where new life is possible. There is living water for broken lives in the presence of God.

He spoke with her about worship. Samaritans and Jews had different centers of worship. Jesus and the woman had a theological discussion, which itself is quite surprising. There is living water seeking the truth with Jesus.

Our word worship comes from the English word “worthship”. You worship something because it is worthy. The ancients bowed down and built fires and burned incense and sacrificed animals and did a lot of stuff that seems strange to us today. The idea of bowing down before something seems just wrong to us today, but we all do worship! Whatever is most important to us, we worship. Jesus told the woman this: God is looking for people to worship him in spirit and in truth, regardless of where it takes place.

What was the most healing thing I did after I returned from Iraq? Worship. Behind a battered building by myself. In a congregation, in which I couldn’t get through a hymn without weeping. Worship watered my soul. Worship is giving God the honor and praise due him, but it is also a fountain of living water. There is living water is worshiping God.

The woman told Jesus that her community was expecting a messiah – a Christ – to come and make the truth known to them. Jesus declared that he was indeed the one she was expecting, so she ran to her village. Her testimony was simple: He told me about my life. Her invitation was simple. Come and see for yourself. Her profession of faith tentative: He couldn’t be the messiah, could he? The people came and they believed. Have you ever been part of the excitement of a growing body of believers? There is living water in even the most basic, unformed immature faith in Christ. There is living water in a living community of faith in which belief grows and spreads.

Jesus says, “I am he.” He claims to be the messiah, the Christ. Now from time to time people come along trying to tell us how to live our lives. By and large, we resist such people, although we’re bigger suckers than we like to admit. Who you follow can make your life better, or it can make your life worse. But Jesus is doing more than claiming to be the best leader, the best adviser, the best guide, or the best teacher. He claims to be God. I can give you living water. I can give you a spring of eternal life. Who can do that except God?

This hot, tired, dusty and thirsty man is God! In her encounter with him, this woman has a divine encounter that fills her most basic need for life. It is truly living water that Jesus offers..

Compassion for others. Acceptance and healing for yourself in the presence of Christ. Worship for God in Christ. Belief in Christ that engages the mind and the spirit. Living in Jesus’ community of faith. These are all aspects of Jesus’ living water in our lives, and I need a drink.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Although I don't believe any politician has all the answers, I am definitely a McCain/Palin supporter. Went to see Sarah Palin this evening in Asheville because we had no church. First time ever I went to a political event such as this. Glad I went to see what is going on first hand. I just encourage you to vote for them. May have more on this later.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Busy day

Woke up early this Saturday morning. It was such a gorgeous fall day all day long. It was pick up day for Angel Food Ministry at church. When that was done I stopped at a gift shop in Lenoir that is one of my discoveries since Julie has moved to Lenoir. They lady that owns it, a couple weeks ago her husband had a heart attack and she had left a sign on her door apologizing for having to close. But today I found out he is doing fine and the shop is open again. It is such a neat shop. It is also a tea room and I have been dying to have lunch or tea with Julie and Lori. On Saturdays, they are open until 2 so when we are done at the church there is not much time and the guys are around. No offense to them, but it is a girl thing. The shop is packed with neat gift items solid from floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Then there are small round tables for 2 that are set up very elegantly with cloth napkins and more decor. I finally got to show it to the girls today but we had already eaten lunch so my goal is still to sit down to tea/lunch someday.

I don't know if it will take place or not, but I talked to the lady who runs our showroom (from my job). It is a couple of hours away from here and very elegant. I told her that the girls from the office were going to have a tea there some day when it is not market time and we are not just asking her business questions. She thought it was a wonderful idea and suggested we do it some time closer to Christmas.

I thank God for small things like enjoying a cup of tea. In this day and time when one can't afford vacations or shopping trips it is nice to give myself a treat of a special cup and quiet corner.

Rick and I decided to bring the weight bench in the house where we could get some use out of it. Our old flabby muscles need some help. His pulmonary workout was only covered for the summer. We really need a family room so I can have my living room back but we'll just use what we have and be thankful for what we've got. He got it set up tonight while Lori and I did some crafts and baking. She made a pumpkin pie completely from scratch, the crust and the fresh pumpkin. I made some rigatoni (spelling ?) and grape surprise. Tomorrow is pastor appreciation day and church is having a dinner after the morning service. I also made a new recipe for supper. Stuffed green pepper soup. It is basically the same ingredients you would put in stuffed peppers but in a soup. We all liked it very much and it is low calorie.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Poison Ivy

I have been attached by poison ivy from Saturday's workday. On my legs. I should have had them covered. But thankfully, I got some good advice from the internet and purchased some good stuff at the drug store and am not being bothered by bad itching. I have not had a bad case of poison ivy since Michael was a baby. I had blisters all over my hands, in between my fingers and on my face. I used disposable gloves when I changed his diapers so he wouldn't get anything on him. It still hasn't made me lose my love for working outdoors. I think I could live out there. I like the crisp autumn weather even if I get cold and then come in and drink a hot cup of tea.

Speaking of tea, I recently have been treating myself to having tea in my good china and making it a special time for me. One of my favorite blogs is a girl from Texas and she has a fall tea tray picture on her blog. If you look at her link on my blog you may see it.

I have been enjoying my early morning, before work devotion times. When we think of the direction our country is heading and what might be in store for us as Christians, our relationship with God is something no one can take from us. I do think that we need to fix God's Word in our mind and pray more than ever. We never know when our open worship and Bible's may be taken from us. Also, we need to keep our relationship with God in tune and up to date should Christ's returning be today. My prayer is that God would help my family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. May they feel the strong urging of the Holy Spirit to get their needs met.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekend Activities

Saturday was a good workday, workout at home. I love being outside so I did not mind helping my daughter and husband. Lori decided to put an in ground dog fence around the yard, the whole yard. That meant across the driveway, by the woods at the neighbors, behind the dog pens, through the woods and on the backside of the shed. They had rented some digger machine (if you know me, I don't know the names of stuff)which made the job pretty easy, especially since I wasn't operating it. But I did help with clearing out brush, making sure the wire was covered and getting on my knees and clearing out mud from the digger. Not bad for an almost senior citizen. It took all day, then we cleaned up, took the digger back to the city and Lori bought our supper at Red Lobster. What a sweet daughter. Now all she has to do is work with the dogs to get them used to it. I know she'll do it, she is good with them. They are her babies.

Sunday was good. God answered prayer by sending us a Spirit filled morning service. Thankful for God's moving. Lunched at Julie's, enjoyed her yard,took a nice hike with Lori, practised songs and choir. Then evening service. I enjoy the way we have Sunday closing with people coming up front with special prayer requests and people joining them to help carry their burden.

This week will be catch up at work after spending last week costing for market and letting everything else go. I should be doing my tax class homework now.

God bless and don't forget to pray for the election. God will help us no matter which way it goes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ebenezer Stone

Well, here it is again, can't get away from it. I Samuel chapter 7 I believe. Samuel lifted up the Ebenezer stone, meaning, Hitherto the Lord has helped us. Julie and I are making progress on making our own Ebenezer stone. We had baptism back in the "holler of the mountains at the creek" Sunday evening. One of Clay's cousins, Pat, owns the property. There were plenty of big rocks by the creek. Julie asked Pat if we could have a couple to take home. She said sure you don't have to ask. So we picked out our favorites. Maybe by the time we are done with it, Julie will have shown me how to put a picture on my post and we'll do a show and tell.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Move on to be an oak tree, Ebeneezer!

I just had to somehow incorporate the spiritual thoughts of the last 2 days in my title! I didn't get to hear yesterday morning's revival message because of helping in the kitchen. But Rick told me about it when I went back to get in line with him to eat. God told Joshua "Moses is dead, move on, cross over Jordan and do the things I tell you." The thought of the message was if there are things in your life that are still troubling you and they are dead, leave them and go forward to do the things that God would have you to do.

Then, the great Ebeneezer message in the evening. Becky Laywell had brought to my attention the story in I Samuel about the Ebeneezer stone and I did a blog on it, ask Julie to make me an Ebeneezer stone and was looking it up again yesterday afternoon. Ebeneezer means the Lord has helped us. The message was remember all the times the Lord has helped you in the past and know that He will help you in the future. The speaker gave us stones at the end of the service.

Today I read a devotion that pointed out that the author was so frustrated after having gone through major disasters in his life that he cried out to God and said "Where are you?" He was sitting on a fallen oak tree and God showed him the huge oak tree standing in front of him. God said that his brokeness was needed in order for him to become like the large oak tree still standing. After many years, God replaced the painful circumstances with inner joy.

So I need to: 1. Move on and leave what's dead behind. 2. Remember how God has helped me in the past (Ebeneezer). 3. Know that the events that have devastated me will help me to become a large oak tree for God.