Friday of Lent IV – John 3:14-21 

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

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

“We don’t do anything for the youth around here!” growled the old man. His grandchildren were drifting away from the parish. It was, in his view, a good time to blame the church for this. There is always some truth to what he says. The church often gives people plenty of reasons to run away. Jesus has not stopped collecting sinners. He got in trouble for that in the first century and he has not changed his ways. We should not be surprised, saddened, but not surprised.

But I challenged this fellow’s assertion. I knew he wanted us to dedicate more resources to youth ministry and was open to do so, but I also knew that whatever we did would fail if we let what he said stand. We were always doing something vitally important for young people in our congregation. We baptized them. We confirmed them. We communed them. We worshiped God together. We served God and people together. Any new or expanded ministry needed to build on that, not assume was we were doing was a failure. A youth ministry which sought to provide a relationship with God outside those things would not succeed. It would always be a pale imitation of the world in which those young people already lived. They would reject it faster than they did existing ministry.

John declares that Light has come into the world, but people love the darkness. Turn on the lights and the cockroaches will scatter into the dark corners. The Light that is Jesus continues to shine in this day. It happens in water splashed, forgiveness spoken, kingdom proclaimed, and a meal consumed. There is a cockroach which lives in all of us that would say that this is not enough, it needs more. And in so seeking would flee the light and embrace the dark. It is Lent. It is time to repent. Hold that wafer in your hand, on your tongue, and repent of all the times you have sought the light anywhere else. Listen to the sermon and let it speak to you rather than letting your mind wander as the media has trained it to do, questing after a new and better experience. Sit down with your Bible and read a psalm or a passage. Do it slowly and devotionally, asking what this says to you. Let the Light shine on you.

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