The Common Good

Fourth Sunday of Lent: Faith into Action

Bible readings from the Revised Common Lectionary: Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm107; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21

As you travel along your Lenten journey of discovery, don't let the soles of your shoes insulate you from pebbles God places on your path -- all the things that nudge you from being complacent in your faith: The invite from a friend to attend a prayer service. Sharing a simple meal of soup and bread with fellow church members. An insightful word of scripture contemplated via lectio divina. In all these ways, let friendship, fellowship, and the unfolding Word illuminate your Lenten path.

Along your Lenten path, let your faith move beyond acceptance of doctrinal fact; rejoice, this Laetare Sunday, in belief -- a belief that, in trust, ceases asking, " God, why is this happening?" Instead, you can say with conviction, "Yes God, let me be your disciple of the social gospel." That confidence denotes patient endurance; belief may mean planting a seed for social change that may not blossom until another generation.

When we act in the context of belief, in reverent service, we keep boastful phrases away from our lips. Affirming our belief, we bring the illumination of the gospel to disobedient darkness. Act in ways that avoid impulsive, fleeting initiatives and work to empower the marginalized. We express our belief in a God of compassion, not condemnation, not just for an era but eternity.

We accept faith by understanding a moral framework -- but then, as life ebbs and flows, we live out our agenda in the context of religious observance. Committing to stand in solidarity with others for social justice, we see worldly wisdom stagger against questions of faith. So intellectual acceptance of faith transitions to belief -- the "trust and confidence" of a disciple. Faith passes beyond hearing the Word to living the Word.

Lenten action: Invite a neighbor or coworker to a Lenten activity at your church.
Visit a church that is different from your faith tradition to attend a Lenten activity.

Barbara Born, Ph.D., is a freelance writer and volunteer, with interests in urban public policy, the environment, peace, and social justice.

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