Archives: John 3:14-21

John 3:17: In The Pink

One thing I think you have to grant us: Davies and I are pretty in pink.

You see that this morning, Davies and I are wearing pink vestments. I get the pink set for the 8 a.m. service, and he will wear them for the 10 a.m.

They were a gift to me from a former parishioner after she heard me in a sermon lament that I’d always wanted to wear pink vestments for Rose Sunday, but had never had the chance.

Then they went in a closet and I never remembered to bring them to church for the correct Sundays either in Advent or Lent. But this year was the year!

And Davies has been a hilariously good sport about it as you might have noticed if you saw his fabulous picture on Facebook also wearing my pink heart-shaped sunglasses.

So why are we wearing pink today?

Well, the official name for the 4th Sunday of Lent is Laetare Sunday, and this Sunday has several traditions around it.

“Laetare” is the first word of the traditional Latin introit to the mass for this Sunday: “Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam,” which means, “Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her.” That’s Isaiah 66:10.

It’s also called Refreshment Sunday, and it’s a chance to take a break from our Lenten solemnity. It’s like an oasis in the desert, or a chance to leave the wilderness, come back into town, and have a couple of beers at the local watering hole.

Christians have realized for a long time that as noble as our aspirations of self-denial and fasting are in Lent, we’re human, and we need a break. Forty days is a long time.

The gospel says that Jesus had angels ministering to him while he was in the desert. We don’t get that, but we do get a day off before the last push toward Holy Week.

Given that it coincides with losing an hour of sleep changing over to Daylight Savings Time, we could all probably use a break today.

Today is also known as Mothering Sunday in the Church of England, which could mean one of two things. It was a day when servants were let off work to go home and see their mothers, or alternatively, it’s a day to return to your mother church, the parish you attended in your childhood.

It’s also called Rose Sunday, which is where we get the pink. Continue reading

Not So Much With the Atonement

“If it were a snake, it would have bit me!”

This is an expression you use if you’ve been looking for something and can’t find it only to discover it’s been right in front of you the whole time.

I thought of this expression as I studied our scriptures for this week about serpents and poles and whatnot, but it did not come true. There is nothing obvious about our texts today.

We’re going to have to dig a little deeper for meaning.

In our Gospel today, Jesus is trying to explain to Nicodemus who he is. He says, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” That’s John 3:15.

Of course, the verse that everyone quotes all the time and puts on signs at football games is John 3:16, for God so loved the world. But I think this verse right before it bears an equal amount of fruit for us to harvest.

Jesus is referring to the story we read today from the book of Numbers, when Moses and the Israelites were in the wilderness.

The Israelites are misbehaving and complaining to Moses again, and the Lord finally gets fed up and sets a bunch of poisonous snakes on them.

Moses prays to the Lord to have compassion on them, and the Lord tells Moses to take a snake and raise it up on a pole, and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.

The interesting part of this story is that while it does say directly that it is the Lord who set the serpents among the people, which is bizarre at best and just mean at worst, the Lord never says that the serpents are there to punish the Israelites for their sin.

The Israelites draw that conclusion themselves. Continue reading