What makes this place Sacred?

Little Brown Church, Nashua Iowa 
The following is the transcript from the January 31, 2016 service at Little Brown Church, Nashua, Iowa. 


John 4:1-38 The MSG

1-3 Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.

4-6 To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.

7-8 A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)

9 The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”

11-12 The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”

13-14 Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”

15 The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”

16 He said, “Go call your husband and then come back.”

17-18 “I have no husband,” she said.

“That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.”

19-20 “Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”

21-23 “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.

23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

25 The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”

26 “I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”

27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.

28-30 The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves.

31 In the meantime, the disciples pressed him, “Rabbi, eat. Aren’t you going to eat?”

32 He told them, “I have food to eat you know nothing about.”

33 The disciples were puzzled. “Who could have brought him food?”

34-35 Jesus said, “The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started. As you look around right now, wouldn’t you say that in about four months it will be time to harvest? Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It’s harvest time!

36-38 “The Harvester isn’t waiting. He’s taking his pay, gathering in this grain that’s ripe for eternal life. Now the Sower is arm in arm with the Harvester, triumphant. That’s the truth of the saying, ‘This one sows, that one harvests.’ I sent you to harvest a field you never worked. Without lifting a finger, you have walked in on a field worked long and hard by others.”

Today’s message is derived from last Sunday’s afternoon spent with a Cub Scout Den. They came right at the end our Council meeting last Sunday and I spent the next 45 minutes walking around the sanctuary discussing with them various theological issues and aspects our Churches history and doctrine. It was quite a feat keeping the attention of 7 and 8 year old boys.

But any rate there were three items that we discussed that are directly related to finishing out the series on discovering and describing “Who We are.”

The Building:

· It is 50 feet long by 25 feet wide by 25 feet high

· Oriented so that we worship facing West vs. facing East

· Emphasis on “Full and Active participation”

· Preaching of the Word became the focal point of the building

· Communion Tables became wood in order to emphaise that Christ’s sacrifice was made once for all

· Emphasize our direct access to God through Christ

Note that our building is built along the same lines as the Ark described in Genesis. It is designed to hold those saved and to provide shelter during the storms of life. When one enters into the sanctuary, the eye is drawn to the front and up so as to remind the worshipper who and why they attend the service. The first aim of man is to Worship God. Our building is a reminder of both the immediacy of being saved, a reminder that in God’s house there are many rooms.

The second aspect of our building is that is painted/wall papered white on the inside. Now we could probably argue over the exact color but the sanctuary was colored in this manner for a number of reasons.

· The lighter color was used along with the high, wide windows to maximize the light. It was tough to light a building this size by candlelight – so it needed help.

· The wall paper is adorned with a shaft of wheat motif. As a worshipper’s eyes would wander about, it could alight on the wheat and be a reminder that outside the sanctuary, was a harvest of lost souls. It is our duty to share the good news of Jesus, just as we read in John chapter 4. We need to attune our eyes to see that the fields are “white unto harvest” and we must be “about our Father’s business.”

· Now also, it would be a reminder that those of us who profess the saving grace of Christ have had our “crimson stain, washed as white as snow.” Within our liturgy we practice the act of confession and redemption and so would see the effect of this on and in our daily lives as we live out Jesus and Him crucified in the world.

Finally, the cross and the crown emblem; this often symbolizes the reward in heaven (the crown) coming after the trials in this life (the cross). We see this in James 1:12,


“Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life. At the right time, he’ll know God’s sweet approval and will be crowned with life. As God has promised, the crown awaits all who love Him.”


We fall down, we lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus,

The greatness of Mercy and Love at the feet of Jesus,

We cry holy, holy, holy, we cry holy, holy, holy – we cry holy, holy, holy. Is the Lord!

Chris Tomlin wrote that song as a means to remind us what happens to us who have fulfilled our covenant as Christians. We will lay down our earthly crowns and receive an eternal one.

All this information, theology and doctrine is great but it still doesn’t answer the Woman at the Wells question – which was in verse 20;

“Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”

Jesus answered;

“Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.

23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

The answer to our original question – What makes this place Sacred – nothing. It is just a location used to remind people when they they worship together who it is they do worship.

We see that in the second part of his response to the Samaritan women  the building we are gathered in this morning is a metaphor for each one us. We are the building from which we worship God. Our lives take on the shape and distinction of Christ as we live out our lives for Him.

The windows are our eyes
– through which we see the world. Do we see a field white unto harvest or just another day in our lives to be endured and survived? We have been given grace and pardon from sin, how do we exhibit that through our inner devotional life.

Finally, will we let Jesus be on the throne of our hearts? Are we willing to cast our earthly crowns down before him today so that through his leading we can save some soul to saving grace?

This building shouldn’t matter to us in regard to our worship. Jesus tells us it’s who we are and how we live that matters.

The real question is – are you a sacred place of worship?