Brian Hiortdahl, Overland Park, KS

Warm-up Question

What color is the dress?

Sight Lines

A photo of a blue and black dress (or is it white and gold?) went viral recently, launching a widespread color debate that captivated the internet.


(photo from Caitlin McNeill’s Tumblr site.)

Celebrities and scientists were among the millions who weighed in and the New York Times took up the question.  Thescience suggests that  it has something to do with light and how human eyes receive it.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think the debate about the dress colors was so intense?
  • How many other examples can you list of people seeing the same thing differently—and passionately arguing (or even fighting) about it?

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Numbers 21:4-9

Ephesians 2:1-10

John 3:14-21

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.


Gospel Reflection

Presenting his gospel like a stage play director, John has turned down the lights.  Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night because John wants us to see that he is in the dark, in sharp contrast to Jesus, the light of the world (see also John 1:9, 8:12, 9:5).

In their conversation, Jesus is trying to get Nicodemus to see things in a different way, but with limited success.  Their disconnect mirrors a passionate divide that runs throughout John’s gospel between those who accept Jesus and those who reject him.  Those who accept him believe, and those who do not “are condemned already” as they shun the light in favor of darkness.

Jesus is like the dress:  the same phenomenon seen very differently, but always sparking a strong reaction.

But John, seeing him differently, would say that Jesus is the light.  The world is the dress.  (The Greek word for world iscosmos, which has various shades of meaning itself—humanity, “the way things are,” the powers that resist God, all of creation.  John, whose writing covers many levels at once, probably intends all of these simultaneously.)  Jesus the light shines upon the world and reveals its true colors.

But Jesus also reveals to us the true colors of God’s heart:  God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  God loyally loves the fickle world.  The designer’s eyes consistently see the world as worth saving.

The price tag attached is steep:  Jesus will end up black and blue on the cross.  Yet the colors of Easter are white and gold.  The Light changes everything.

Discussion Questions

  •  How do you see Jesus?  How is your view different from how others see Jesus?  Does he bring love or judgment…or both?
  •  How do you see the world?  Is it good or evil…or both?  If the world were two colors, what would they be?
  • Are there things in your life you keep in the dark because you are afraid they will be exposed?

Activity Suggestions

  • Review the colors of the church year.  What do those seasonal color choices reveal about about God’s love and our lives?
  • Interview someone who is blind, or colorblind.  How do they “see” (receive and process what is happening around them in) the world?  What do they notice that people with sight do not?

Closing Prayer

Light of the world, shine God’s love into our lives.  Train our eyes to see your truth, and transform our works into bright witnesses to God’s beautiful grace, in order that those who see us would be drawn not toward death but into life.  Amen