Monday, March 9, 2015

The Fourth Sunday in Lent (B), March 15, 2015 - Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3:14-21

Keith Haring, Altarpiece: The Life of Christ, 1990.
Bronze with white gold leaf patina.

 Lifted Up

Oh, how bizarre! - I'm sure you cry -
To read this text, where lifted high
Above the ground is some old snake
That Moses made for Israel's sake!

First, why on earth did Yahweh choose
To send those snakes, when they abused
The generosity God showed
When freedom on them, God bestowed?

Who knows? And yet a remedy
For lack of faith is what we see
God gives whenever we are blind
To how God wants to be defined.

It also seems a funny thing
The praise of Christ who's killed to sing,
Since dying seems less victory
Than something contradictory.

Why would it that this faithful man,
Condemned to death, be some game plan
For how the world might finally see
The love that sets all people free?

Who knows? And yet, it matters not
The things that up God's sleeve, God's got!
Love backed not down, and thus displayed
Extravagance God shows today.

When snake or Son are lifted high,
The thing to see in your mind's eye
Is God who always demonstrates
The saving grace which God creates.

Scott L. Barton

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

+  +  +

And 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. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 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.”

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