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Lent Log

John 4:1-42

The “Woman at the Well” is one my all-time favorite stories—and I think my favorite part is when Jesus tells the woman to go get her husband, and she’s like, “Um, I don’t have a husband.” (She was living with a guy, at least the 6th in a long line of relationships—and in the ancient world, this was incredibly shameful.) 
But Jesus doesn’t freak out: he’s like, “Yeah, I know you’ve had 5 husbands.” (I picture Jesus just sort of shrugging.) He doesn’t want to talk about the past; instead, he wants to talk about her future.

Jesus doesn’t judge us for where we’ve been. He just wants to walk with us wherever it is that we’re going.

Lent Log

John 3:22-36

John’s gospel occasionally goes off on tangents, like this one that doesn’t really seem to fit with the other stories. But don’t get distracted. Look at v. 34: “He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without measure.”

We can trust Jesus, John says, because we see that the Spirit of God works through him.

Lent Log

John 3:1-21

Nicodemus wanted to talk to Jesus, but he was afraid of what his friends, the other Pharisees, would think. So he came secretly, at night, to ask Jesus several questions—which Jesus took time to answer carefully.

Sometimes it’s not cool to be Christian, and sometimes we worry about what our friends will think about our faith. Jesus understands that.

I think Jesus is willing to meet us wherever we are.

Lent Log

John 2:1-12

The Wedding at Cana—where Jesus turns water into wine—is one of my favorite stories. I always forget how much wine was actually involved: 8 jars, EACH holding 20 to 30 GALLONS.

Jesus doesn’t do anything small-scale.

Lent Log

John 1:19-51

I think I’d sum up this section as “the Spirit helps us find.”

I’d never noticed v. 33 before; Jesus goes to the Jordan River to be baptized, and John the Baptist says, “I did not know him.” I thought that John had already met Jesus—but he hadn’t. He only recognizes Jesus because the Spirit “remained” on him.

I’m not saying I totally get what that means or how John knew it was the Holy Spirit or how it could “remain” on Jesus (in my head, it’s like a dramatic spotlight, but probably it was a lot more subtle than that).

Still, it’s comforting to know that the Spirit, however it works, is helping us to find what we’re looking for—and to recognize Truth when we find it.

Lent Log

John 1:6-18

My favorite in this section is v.14: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…”

I learned something new by reading the Bible footnotes: apparently the word for “made his dwelling” is similar to the Hebrew for “set up his tent” and the Aramaic (dialect that Jesus spoke) for “God’s presence.”

It’s easy to forget that: Jesus didn’t just walk around on earth; rather, he chose to “dwell” with us—and in so doing, he brought God’s presence to us.

Ellie’s been even more adorable than usual lately.

Snuggling with Dad:

What do you mean, there's not enough room?

Getting fur all over the nice clean sheets the moment I turn my back:

You made the bed just for me?

Romping in the snow:

Help! I'm weird AND adorable!

Just too cute. How can I not laugh?

We sinned in Confirmation class.

Got your attention, huh?

Yeah, I mean we talked about the topic of sin last week—but I also think it’s accurate to say that all of us probably sinned at some point during the hour, too.

I know I, for one, thought a few unkind things when Pastor Scott threw a dart—literally, a needle-sharp projectile—at the dartboard when I was standing next to it.

I mean, right next to it. I could have been impaled.

It was, however, a good way to make sure I never forget the point (get it, point?).

The word “sin,” he explained, actually means “to miss the mark.” Out of alignment. Skewed. Out of joint. Off. He demonstrated this by sending a dart sailing right past the dartboard. (Seriously, the guy has terrible aim. I’m lucky to be alive.)

The reason that sin is a problem, I think, is that it gets in the way of our relationship with God. It’s not that there’s some magic “should” list out there and we’re horrible if we break a rule on it. And it’s not that God’s up there keeping score on all the bad things we do.

Rather, God wants to be in a relationship with us. And when we sin, it gets between us and God. It gets in the way of that really good relationship. It causes us to “miss the mark” in a big way—to miss the whole point of living in right connection with God.

Jesus shows us how to live like that. One of his fancy names, Immanuel, means “God with us.” Not “God judging us” or “God counting our sins” or “God telling us what to do”—just with us. That’s the most perfect kind of relationship we can have: knowing that God is with us.

And that’s something worth aiming for.

This week on 5 Things Friday: I’m trying to embrace winter. Especially with record-low temperatures expected this weekend…

5 Things I Love About Winter

1. Snow outlining the bare branches of trees.

2. The adorable way Ellie pounces on random snow clumps and then gets snowflakes all over her nose.

3. Wearing sweaters.

4. Building a roaring fire in the fireplace. (Come to think of it, I really should move to a house that has a fireplace.)

5. Secretly laughing at non-Wisconsinites who think that 40 degrees is “bitterly cold.” (Seriously. Someone from Alabama once said this to me.)

Have a great wintry weekend, everybody!

I’m fighting a wicked head cold.

Of course, by “fighting” I mean, mostly, “curling up on the couch and feeling sorry for myself.”

I am not a good patient.

Oh sure, I’m following all the rules: plenty of fluids, rest, Advil, hot tea with honey. I even broke out the Vick’s Vapo-Rub tonight. It stinks but it works.

I know it’s just a cold. I know it will go away, as my friend Patty says, “in 7 days to a week.” I know I just have to hang on until the rhinovirus moves on to another host or wears itself out or does whatever it is that rhinoviruses do.

(Calling it a rhinovirus somehow makes it sound fierce. As in, no wonder I didn’t get much done today except sleep and watch Law & Order—hello, I have a rhinovirus.)

Still, this minor cold is nothing compared to the hanging-in-there times that people suffer every day: cancer, accidents, grief, war. I wish these times weren’t a part of life.

And yet, in the midst of this minor cold, I’ve been reminded about two things: first, God is there, even when it feels like we’re just hanging on, and second, hanging on is easier when we lean on other people.

I woke up this morning and, through my congestion and whining, thought about my to-do list: “Let’s see: 1) try to stay alive. 2)… Nope, just one is enough for now.” I asked God for the grace to get through the day.

Then I called my sister, who convinced me it was OK to stay home from work. She fed me soup and made me take a nap. Ellie the dog sensed something was wrong; she curled up close to me on the bed and kept me warm. (It wasn’t completely selfless: I believe she also needed a nap.)

I know it’s just a minor cold that will go away soon, but I needed both God’s grace and the support of other people (and one furry dog) to hang in there today. I hope I can remember this in more difficult times. And I hope God will use me to help other people hang in there, too, when they need it.

And I hope the effects of this Vapo-Rub are worth the smell.