Our Lenton Season
Lent is a period of preparation before celebrating the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter.
Annual Lenten Bible Study
Around The Lenten Circle
February 18, 2024 - March 24, 2024
View and download the materials below:
During Sunday School @ 9am Phone & Video conference. All Sunday School will join together for this study.
Lent is a period of preparation before celebrating the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter
March 10, 2024 • Fourth Sunday of Lent • Year B
“Those who do what is true come to the light." John 3:21
Reader: Gracious God, thank you for calling us together again.
All: May this conversation strengthen us to continue living out our Lenten journey as we draw nearer to you.
Reader: We ask this in Jesus’ name.
Last week we reflected on the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy. We considered different ways that we could use Sundays for rest and renewal instead of unending work. We also read the story of Jesus’ anger that the Temple was turned into a marketplace rather than a place for worship and prayer. We reflected on how sometimes our parishes might get off track from their primary mission.
1. Describe any further reflections you’ve had on either of those two readings.
2. Have you had any more insights about what gifts of practicing the “Sabbath”?
LISTENING: EPHESIANS 2:8-10
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us...
These verses today are a good reminder about the former-that God’s grace is a complete gift, freely given, and never earned by good behavior or hard work. We need to hear this, over and over! Often it’s not so easy to accept, especially because our culture focuses us on hard work and responsibility, and praises those who pull themselves up by their bootstraps. It doesn’t seem right to accept something we haven’t worked to deserve, right?
For centuries Catholics and Protestants argued about whether we are saved by our faith or by our works. Now we are in better agreement that we need faith-and that good works should flow out of faith. As St. James wrote, “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead“ (James 2:17).
Yet think of tiny, newborn babies-we shower them with love and tenderness and we rush to fulfill their needs although they haven’t done a single thing to earn it, only offering us poopy diapers, crying, and interruptions to our sleep in return. Our God loves us like that! Our God wants to shower us with even more, and doesn’t ask us to earn it.
1. In terms of your own spiritual life, do you tend to focus more on “faith” or “works”? How so?
2. Share an example of a time when you were offered a gift or an unexpected blessing that was difficult to receive because you didn’t feel you earned it.
3. Reflect on an example of a time when you saw good works flow out of someone’s faith-either yours or that of another person.
REFLECTION: JOHN 3:19-21
In John’s Gospel, Jesus teaches often about light and darkness. It is from here that we get the image of Christ as the light of the world, a light that can never be overcome, no matter how deep the darkness of the world might seem at times.
And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But 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.”
In this passage, Nicodemus, a Pharisee, comes to Jesus at night, probably because he doesn’t want the other Pharisees to see him meeting with Jesus whom they dislike. Jesus explains to Nicodemus that people who are evil like to work in the dark where their wickedness can be hidden. They don’t want to be exposed, so they do what they can to hide their actions. On the other hand, people who are trying to live with honesty, integrity, and truthfulness are not afraid to do their work in the light. They are not trying to hide their actions because they have nothing to be afraid of if they are discovered.
This conversation is a great reminder that if we are tempted to keep something secret we should question our motives. Why do we need to hide our actions or intentions? Is there something we are trying to cover up, and if so, why? If we are living in truth, Jesus assures us that we can be confident in letting our works be clearly seen.
1. Are there things you have been tempted to keep hidden or secret? If so, can you share an experience of allowing something to “come to the light”? How did that bring you freedom or relief?
2. Share an experience of a time when someone (you or someone else you know) had the courage to bring to light a troubling situation that needed to be addressed. What happened?
3. Give an example of a current social ill that is being more openly dealt with because someone or some group of people has brought it into the public light.
All: Gracious God, thank you for this time to step away from our daily business and reflect on your teachings.
Help us to remember that you want to love us and be in relationship with us regardless of how we act.
We pray for the courage to do the work we are meant to do in the light and to strive to bring into the light all that needs to be revealed.
We ask this in Christ’s name. Amen.
Copyright © 2024 Ann Naffziger. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. Published by The Pastoral Center / PastoralCenter.com. Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.