Photo via Flickr user Doug Brown
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’;18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
Sometimes the truth is so good we need to be reminded of it on a regular basis. The youth I work with receive this passage as good news. They do not need to go to the mountain or Jerusalem to find God. The Spirit and truth are everywhere; we are swimming in it all the time. They do find a sense of something bigger than themselves in worship at church, but it also gives them so much relief to be reminded that their experience of the divine in other places is real, it counts.
I’m not sure where we get this limiting idea that thin space is confined to church buildings, but in all the years I have worked with youth, I find I must often remind them that it is okay– it’s wonderful, in fact– to seek God everywhere. Jesus tore down the veil so that we all have access to the Spirit. God is alive in worship, yes, but also in every other space that is.
They tell me stories of climbing mountains and sitting by streams. They speak of being in the zone, being totally present in their bodies during sports competitions or sweating alone on a long run. They tell me about laughing with their whole being in the safety of friends on a summer day. Yet there is still a look in their eyes as they recount their experience of the divine that is asking me, an adult, if their answer is acceptable.
Yes, yes, yes, I urge them on. Yes. God created you. The Spirit inside of you intensifies and wakes up where it will. Trust it. Lean on it. Continue to go get that feelings. How Jesus comes to you matters. He assures us that Jerusalem, the mountains and everywhere in between is fair game. This truth is good. I can see it in their eyes.
The small plot of ground On which you were born Cannot be expected To stay forever The same. Each changes, And homes becomes different Places. You took flesh From Clay But the clay Did not come From just one Place. To feel alive, Important, and safe Know your own waters And hills, but know more. You have stars in your bones and oceans in blood. You have opposing terrain in each eye. You belong to the Land; and sky at your first cry, you belong to infinty. -Alla Renee Bozarth