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For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

I ask God for the grace to see in the stars infinite opportunities to experience love and grace.

Prayer Text

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who 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 might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 

And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.

But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

Jn 3:14-21

Reflection

By Alli Bobzien

Crickets chirp, a warm breeze brushes our faces, and a whiff of campfire smoke floats past us. A gentle hush falls over the usually boisterous group of campers and eyes fill with wonder as they take in the majesty of the stars above them. In that moment of communal appreciation for God’s creation, a sacred space is created.

The camp that my father directed, and where I was raised, boasts a magical campsite called the Star Gazing Platform. A cleverly designed half circle of reclined benches, situated on the top of a hill, creates a perfect place to view the night sky. Countless children and adults have marveled at the sky from this vantage point. I treasure the many nights I’ve spent here dreaming and telling stories beneath the stars.

The cosmos has always affected me deeply. The sheer vastness of the brilliant sky paired with the challenge of finding twinkling constellations captivated me from a young age. Perhaps this is why I began memorizing star stories — so I could share this love of the night sky with others. My favorite constellation myths come from the Greeks and Romans with their tales of heroics, villainy and truly epic monsters. The night sky is riddled with images drawn of theses mythic characters, meant to serve as enduring reminders of the accolades and foibles of those pictured.

The gods of these myths were quick to pass judgement. Mercurial, limited in their power and incredibly proud, these gods toyed with humans. They used humans as pawns in their schemes and punished them harshly if they failed, even drawing some in the sky to immortalize their shame. The human realm served as the gods’ playground, and they were the biggest bullies on the turf.

Then, in the same time frame as these brutal Roman gods’ reign in popular culture, a new god came on the scene. Instead of judgement, he offered grace and healing. Rather than shunning those different from him, he engaged with outsiders, sinners and those considered “unclean.” He defied all social, economic and religious boundaries and showed the world what love could look like. Rather than condemn, Jesus asked everyone to examine their own conscience before throwing a stone. Not content to leave a single sheep lost, Jesus went out to save each one.

When I gaze up at the sky, pondering the countless stories etched above me, I am filled with gratitude for the God I serve, who looked so different from the gods of myth. Jesus, the servant-hearted Savior, came in humility and grace to minister to a fallen world through sacrificial love. This Lent I pray that you can take a moment to peer at the stars and soak in the wonder of our Creator who came not to condemn but to save.

Questions for Contemplation

  • Who is God for you? How can you use these Lenten days to draw nearer to our God of compassion and love?
  • Are there images of God you need to let go of? Are these images hampering your relationship with God and others? Ask Jesus to transform these old images of God into ones that are life-giving.  

Closing Prayer

God of the cosmos, your love for me is as infinite as the stars in the sky. Help me to bask in the starlight, to see your face gazing back at me, delighting. Help me to lead others to your infinite love. Amen.

Meet the Writer

Alli Bobzien is a full-time mom, a nap-time writer, and graduate student of Theology at Fuller Seminary. When she isn’t playing outdoors with her two spunky daughters, she writes about spirituality, theology, family and nature. You can find more of her work at allibobzien.com, through her monthly newsletter The Pondering Heart, or on Instagram @bobz.alli.