Pathways through Lent

Weekday reflections from St. John’s in the season of Lent.

Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent: March 20, 2024

In our collect for today, we ask for God to increase our faith, a prayer that aligns well with John’s gospel. The writers and editors of the fourth gospel—widely believed to be the last gospel written—spoke to a later generation of Christians, decades after the life of Christ, decades after the other gospels told of the promised second coming as if it were coming soon and very soon. John addressed the concerns of a generation still waiting, a community questioning the teachings handed down by previous generations. The religion they had grown up with increasingly seemed out of sync with the reality they knew. It is a gospel written for a people struggling to have faith.

In our reading today, Jesus speaks to members of the local community, who are skeptical. They question. They challenge. They aren't quite sure. If we are honest, don't we also sometimes have a tendency to respond in a similar way to Jesus? We justify the status quo; we try to explain ourselves. Yet, Jesus responds with an invitation to change what and how we believe, to increase our faith in the one sent by God.

Faith in the gospel of John isn’t a light-switch moment; faith is ever on the make; faith is a journey. In John, Jesus speaks through signs, sermons, and in conversation to nudge people to move, even if in small steps, along the journey from no faith to a little bit of faith to belief. We are reminded that we come from a long line of doubters, skeptics, sinners, and folks who struggled to make sense of faith. Amid our own anxiety, questioning, and skepticism, Jesus reasserts his standing invitation to take if not a leap, then a step forward in faith, and to pray:

Almighty God our heavenly Father, renew in us the gifts of your mercy; increase our faith, strengthen our hope, enlighten our understanding, widen our charity, and make us ready to serve you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Clayton M. McCleskey
Pathways Editor