Wednesday in Lent 4
Morning Office Readings: Psalms 101, 109; Jeremiah 18:1-1; Romans 8:1-11; John 6:27-40

One afternoon towards the end of my year as a hospice chaplain, I sat on a couch in a stifling apartment that smelled like cigarette smoke. Mrs. J was inconsolable; I could barely make out what she was saying on the phone between sobs, but I told her I’d be there right away. She was weeping as she opened the door; but still she’d set out cookies and ice water on the coffee table. I’d met Mrs. J a few weeks before, as her adult son slowly died at our hospice unit. She’d grieved hard then; how could she not? How could she not still be?

The crisis came out in a tumble of words and shuddering cries: she was terrified that because her son had stopped going to church as an adult, because he didn’t seem to have much use for religion, she was afraid he’d somehow “lost his salvation.” She was worried that he was not with God. “I just need a word from God,” she kept wailing, and thumbed frantically through her worn-out bible. The pages were thick with chunks of text highlighted in neon yellow. “I just need a Word from God.”

All my caveats about not proof-texting, my hesitations about taking verses out of context, my wanting to know what exactly she meant by “salvation”: none of it mattered. I thumbed to John 6 quick as I could, but my fingers were trembling, not working quite right. I began to read: “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should losenothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”  Then I read it again, more slowly.  Mrs. J leaned over and pulled the bible from my hands; I pointed to the verses I’d just read. She uncapped the yellow highlighter and marked them.

“What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?”

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith.  I just need a Word from God, that Word made flesh.

Mo. Jenna+