God Meets us at our Level

When Our Lord met St Photini at Jacob’s Well, He met her at her level and had compassion on her, and she was saved. She then went and invited others to come and see Christ for themselves, and Christ met them at their level, and they were saved. God meets each of us at our level, and then works with our faith to bring us with Him to heaven.

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Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Be Transfigured, where we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We pray that this episode is a blessing to you and will inspire you to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for worship or study at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where visitors are always welcome. We'll be back in a few moments to share some more information about our ministry.

But this morning's gospel, my brothers and sisters, is a beautiful message for us, a message of faith, a message of compassion, and a message of God's willingness to come down and be with us at our level in order to raise us up to heaven. We see at high noon, the heat of the day, Christ approaches a well. Now, at this well, Jacob's Well, he encounters a woman, we know her to be Saint Photini. And Saint Photini, one of the things we have to realize right off the bat in this particular gospel lesson, my brothers and sisters, is that it was unheard of, it was not normal for someone to go to the well at high noon. This is hard work to bring the water up from the well and bring it on your shoulders or on your head all the way back to town. And so you have to wonder why is this woman, in the first place, why is she at high noon coming to the well?

We find out later in the story that she probably had a reputation in the city. Keep in mind with the interaction of Christ, Christ reveals to her that He knows her heart. And He says, "Look, you've had five husbands, and the one you're with now is not even your husband." So that can lead us to believe, although the scripture did not quite say it this way, but it can lead us to believe, my brothers and sisters, that this woman had to go out to the well by herself. You see, the women who were tending to the chores, of course, they probably would have gone early in the morning before it was hot, before their chores began. And they probably would have gone together as a community to draw the water out of the well to help each other. But this woman was probably not very well respected in the city.

And so here she encounters God, and this, my brothers and sisters, is the beautiful message of God's love. On many levels, it is lowering Himself, God condescending Himself, coming down to her level. First, the fact that she's probably estranged from many people, she's a woman, and she's a Samaritan. Three strikes against her, you could say in those days, in that reality of life in those days, because Christ is a teacher. And so it would have been unheard of for Christ to have this kind of interaction with a woman at the well as He did. And this is God's love for us. God doesn't pay attention to the reputation we may have in the city. He comes down and comes down to our level and comes and meets us where we are, whether we are attending to our chores in the heat of the day, or whether we are quietly at home saying our prayers.

You see, my brothers and sisters, God is the Supreme, Ultimate Creator of the universe. And He came down to our level, but He didn't keep us there. He didn't just come down to our level and say, "Hey guys, what's going on? Let's hang out for a little while." He says to this woman, "If you knew who was talking to you at this moment, you would ask, and He would give you water and you'd never get thirsty again. And the water that I give you," Christ tells her, "would spring up as a fountain from your heart." You see, God comes down to her level as He comes down to our level, but then immediately He brings her up with Him. He doesn't leave her down where she was. He brings her and gives her dignity and gives her compassion. And He gives her life. This even baffled the holy apostles.

So she goes back to the city. In the meanwhile, the apostles are wondering, "What's going on here?" They offer Him something to eat, He says, "No, no, no. I've got food enough to do the will of My Father." "Did someone give Him food? I don't see any food anywhere." Again, God coming to the level of the apostles, and He teaches them like He teaches us. So then we go to the end of the story, and the woman brings back the crowd. And the crowd says to the woman, after spending a couple of days with Christ, "Now we believe, not because of anything you said," because they're still kind of tainted toward her, I suspect, "we believe not because of what you said but because of everything that we've heard from Him." And the end of the picture we're faced with the woman, the disciples, and the crowd of the city, all encountering God at their level and all being left higher than when they began.

And God does the same thing for us. God meets us, my brothers and sisters, where we are in this moment, in our weakness, in our fears, in our struggles, even in our sins, but He doesn't want us to stay there. He comes to us, He encounters us so that He can bring us to heaven with Him. And you see, my brothers and sisters, if this woman had simply stayed where she was in her way of life, in her sinfulness, in her estrangement, then the entire city would never have encountered Christ. You see, Christ tells the disciples, "Look, the time of the harvest is coming." And He's telling us, my brothers and sisters, the time of the harvest is coming. It's our responsibility to reap the seeds that God has sown in our life and in the life of others. But in order for us to do that, we have to go back to the city and tell people, "Come and see who we encountered, come and meet Him at your own level."

And so as we prepare to reopen our church, this is going to be more important now than it ever was, this encounter with God and this willingness to have compassion on each other. You see, my brothers and sisters, there are many in our society that are afraid, and for those who are afraid, we must provide a place of comfort and a message of hope. But at the same time, we must calm their fears. We cannot scold them for their fears. God did not scold Saint Photini at the well, He opened her eyes to her life, and He offered her something better. When we encounter people now when we reopened our church in a few weeks, it'll be our responsibility to not live in judgment of each other, this interaction that we've been having, whether it is the wearing of masks, whether it is the dangers of Holy Communion, whether it is dangerous to come into the church. One is arguing against the other on both sides.

Those who have stronger faith and are not afraid are angry and judgmental to those who are afraid. That is not the love of God. And those who are afraid are passing judgment on those who are not afraid, "Why aren't you wearing your mask? You don't care about people," et cetera. My brothers and sisters, what God is giving us in this morning's message is an example of how we can meet people at where they are, and God will meet us where we are. If we somehow think we have it all made, if we somehow think we have it all accomplished, we're dreaming. If we think we are somehow superior in our faith because we are willing to go out in public or we're willing to come to church or whatever the case might be, if we think we are somehow superior in our faith, then we do not have faith that God asks us to have. Then we have learned nothing from the past three months, going all the way back to the message of the Pharisee.

But God calls us to humility. And God invites us to encounter people as the woman encountered the city folk, as the city folk encountered the woman at each other's level to bring people to a higher level in Christ. That's our opportunity, and that's our challenge. And then we will reap what God has sown in our community, the seeds of love and compassion and faith, but we won't do it judging each other. If Christ and the apostles merely had judged Saint Photini, she would not have met Christ, and the city would not have met Christ. But because of God's love, everything changes, His willingness to encounter us and our willingness to encounter Him in others. This is the great challenge of this morning's gospel, and this will be our call moving forward as our society leaves this crisis behind. Christ is risen. Χριστός Ανέστη And the power of God will rule over our hearts if we allow it. Glory to God for all things.

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