Fourth Sunday in Lent  ~  B

   2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19- 23      ~     Psalm 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6        ~      Ephesians 2:4-10       ~    John 3:14-21 




Sabbath Reflections 
through the week...

  Where is your story in
  the Sacred Story today?

  Have you had any "lost
  Sabbaths"--times when
  acknowledging God's 
  ever constant presence
  was absent in your life?

 Where are the cracks,
  cob webs, peeling paint
  and water stains in your

  What are the gifts that
  God has given you and
  how do you express your

The Gift and the Challenge

                  Kathleen and Bridget lived side by side in humble cottages on 
                  the Irish country side at the turn of the last century.  Both had 
                  lovely spring gardens which they tended faithfully every Monday 
                  morning.   Tuesday was laundry day.  On Wednesday Kathleen 
                  would invite Bridget for tea.  On Friday Bridget returned the courtesy.
                 Thursday was shopping day and Saturday both women could be 
                 seen airing bedding and mopping floors.

                 One Wednesday at tea, Kathleen announced that she had decided 
                  to have an electric ceiling light installed in the sitting room where 
                  they shared their weekly tea.  Bridget was surprised.   "Why go 
                  through all that bother?  The room is cozy and quite suitable for 
                  relaxation and receiving visitors.  I think you're making a mistake.

                A few weeks later Bridget saw workers moving in and out of 
                 Kathleen's cottage.  When the work was complete Kathleen invited 
                 Bridget over for the first lighting.  With their tea served, Kathleen 
                 moved to the wall switch and with great ceremony flipped the switch. 
                 In silence they both surveyed the room bathed in light as never before.  

                Kathleen caught sight of the look on Bridget's face as her eyes 
                 moved to the ceiling and walls.  It was a look of shock and 
                 disappointment.  Kathleen looked up and around, and saw that the
                 lighting had exposed cracks, cob webs, peeling paint and water 
                 stains that were never quite noticeable before.

                Bridget shook her head and said, "See I told you it was more trouble 
                 than it was worth.  Now you have all that mess to contend with."

                The following Monday, Bridget was out tending her garden as usual.  
                 But Kathleen was nowhere to be seen.  Bridget walked around to the 
                 side of the cottage and peered through the window.  There she saw 
                 Kathleen on a ladder scraping and scouring the walls of her newly 
                 lighted sitting room.

                "What a lot of bother," thought Bridget as she turned back to her 
                  gardening. "Such a lot of bother!"
-- Source unknown

          Letting the light of Christ into our lives, often puts us at risk of exposing the messiness of our lives and, frankly, that often makes life more complicated. The light of Christ draws  attention to the peeling paint of hidden attitudes of discrimination towards groups of people whose religion, race or way of life are different from ours. The light of Christ allows us to see clearly the veiled cobwebs of addicted behavior. The light that is Christ illumines those "hard to reach places" that we try to avoid—that “slip our minds.”

          The Book of Chronicles relates the story of God’s frustration with the Israelites who had failed to remember, as part of their worship, the compassion and the mercy of their God.  They failed to remember that the story of God’s steadfast love was part of their story.  It was that failed memory that led to their seventy-year exile in Babylon. But the ever faithful Yahweh chose King Cyrus, a foreigner, to liberate them – the most unlikely of all rescuers is sent to restore their inheritance.

          In the same way the Word of God calls us in our day to retrieve our "lost Sabbaths," to take time to restore and renew ruptured relationships by remembering the mercy and compassion of our God.  These final weeks of Lent can be just such a time to remember the story of our own broken, frail human nature while we recognize and acknowledge, especially in our Sunday celebration, that we will, in the words of the Psalmist, never again forget the gracious gift of God’s compassion in the person of Jesus.

          St. Paul reminds us that the light won for us by Christ's suffering and death is a gift freely given.  
                                For by grace you have been saved through faith, 
                                and this is not from you; it is the gift of God;

           Perhaps it’s the milieu in which we live, but we find it very difficult to admit our dependence on anyone or any thing.  That remarkable independent spirit so reverenced by our culture doesn’t work well in our relationship with God.  As people of faith we must acknowledge with Paul: all is grace -- a gift that demands a response.  We gather to worship as people of faith for that very reason.  The word “Eucharist” is from the Greek eucharistia, which means “to give thanks.”  Our celebration is rooted in remembering God's love and giving thanks.

         In the Gospel, Nicodemus, a Pharisee, comes to Jesus at night seeking the light of truth. We do the same by coming here to worship. The light of Christ can serve as a beacon to lead us as disciples of Christ to a true change of heart so that we may find our way to retrieve our “lost Sabbaths.” We pray at this Eucharist that the Light of Christ will illumine the hidden recesses of our hearts and so bring us to the healing and wholeness of Easter joy.