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Rejoice Sunday

Dear Cathedral Family,

The fourth Sunday in Lent is the “rose” Sunday of Lent, called “Laetare Sunday,” or “Rejoice Sunday,” like its counterpart in Advent. I like the name “Refreshment Sunday” for this week because it highlights the intention of this milestone in the Lenten journey: this is a halfway place to rest from repentance and “working on ourselves” and to remember grace. God gives us new life. We don’t earn it or make it ourselves.

If you are anything like me, you may have fallen in your efforts to impose your own Lenten discipline. This week brings good news: you can rest in God’s grace.

The writer John Steinbeck had something to say about what he called “the indiscipline of overwork”—driving yourself forcefully beyond your limits. He said that this is “the falsest of economies.” Knowing your limits, respecting and being present to them, takes as much discipline as working hard.

Paul puts this in theological language in his letter to the Ephesians: “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.”

Jesus explained this to the inquiring Nicodemus in John 3. The new life, the “birth from above” that brings us into the Kingdom of Heaven is the gift of love that came through God’s Son. The “lifting up” of Jesus Christ—through his death, resurrection, and ascension—is the gift that lifts us up with him into new life.

My prayer for you this fourth week in Lent is that you can rest in grace, respect your own limitations, and know that God loves you—and the whole world—so much that God has done the work of salvation for you.



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