Posted by: jblevins | March 25, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Friends, my apologies for not posting this sooner. See the reflections and actions for this week below:

This year, we invite you to include as part of your Lenten practices to consider your impact upon God’s Creation – and what steps you can take in your own life to bring yourself back into relationship with it. Each Sunday, we will send an email including the lectionary text for that week, a brief reflection, some study questions, and then daily actions.

Henry Nouwen writes, “In the midst of a turbulent, often chaotic, life we are called to reach out with courageous honesty to our innermost self, with restless care to our fellow human beings, and with increasing prayer to our God. To do that, however, we must face and explore our inner restlessness, our mixed feelings toward others, and our deep-seated suspicions about the absence of God.” It is this journey that Lent is all about, and this year, we invite you to join us in it.

Click here to download our reflection for the fourth Sunday in Lent in PDF form.

Lectionary Text: John 3:14-21 (NRSV)

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.*

16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’*

Other Lectionary Readings: Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10

Reflection

This is the set of verses that is often cited as foundational to the Christian faith. This is what it is all about. “For God so loved the world….” And that is absolutely true. But why do we so often stop the reading there? We tend to get to the part where we who believe are granted eternal life – but miss the responsibility that comes in the very next sentence. You see, the reason Christ came into this world was to empower us, through the gift of eternal life, to use that gift, “so that the world might be saved through him.” This is not simply a passage about individual belief – about whether or not we believe. It is about what we do with that belief!

No longer is this passage one of individual salvation, but one that focuses on the power of that salvation to bring the transormative healing of Christ into the world. It is a challenge to each of us, who do believe, to see the world through the eyes of Christ, and to seek not to condemn it, but to save it. This passage also starts by referencing the serpent in the wilderness, with Moses (the Hebrew Bible lectionary text for this week) – a serpent whose power was to heal.

This is the power we have through Christ – the power through our belief to heal the world. We are challenged to look at the world with the eyes of Christ. That is why God sent Christ. So that we may have the life that heals the world. So that we may be empowered to continue the healing and transformative work that Christ began. And, my friends, we have work to do.

Guiding Questions

1. What does it mean that Christ came not to condemn the world, but to save it? What kind of implications does that have for how we live our lives?

2. Are the ways in which we live reflective of the light of Christ? Can the light of Christ be seen in us? How do we live that out? What does it look like, daily?

Daily Actions

Sunday, March 22ndSpend some time in reflection with the passages above, and the reflections. Center yourself for the Lenten journey.

Monday, March 23rdPart of this challenge is changing our personal lives to represent the transformation that has occurred within us, and which we seek in the world. Click here to view a Carbon Footprint quiz, and see what changes you can make!

Tuesday, March 24thThe next step is to transform the practices of your church. Click here for resources on Green Building, and see what steps your church can make to better reflect this transformation, and to participate in the healing.

Wednesday, March 25thToday, the House will vote to protect millions of acres of God’s Creation. Click here to tell your Representatives of the importance of protecting our public lands as a part of the healing of all of Creation.

Thursday, March 26th Return to the lectionary texts for this week. What new emerges from a second reading of them? Try reading them with a group, seeing what new insights come forth.

Friday, March 27thConsider how the items we buy, and the products we use, everyday can contribute to this healing. Click here to download our Mindful Living resource, along with a gathering guide, to encourage those around you to do the same.

Saturday, March 28th This Saturday, takes steps toward participating in healing the world by joining Earth Hour, and turning off all your lights for one hour. Click here for more information.

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