Does anyone feel like Nicodemus sometimes?
with what Jesus says?
Or written in the epistles sometimes especially with Paul?
Especially the Old Testament
with the books of laws and the prophets!
Like, I just don’t get it!
Like some of these philosophical books or scientific ones
I have to reread the paragraph like 3 or 4 times
to understand what they are saying!
Same way with Jesus
Just too intelligent and wise
Trying to get it into thick-skulled people like me
Not worthy! I’m not worthy!
But then again:
Who was Abraham to be chosen to have faith like that?
Who was Abraham to receive those promises?
A travelling wanderer, a stranger
Not settled down and stable
Still figuring things out
Going through uncharted territory
And back to Nicodemus…
Arrives to see Jesus at night (not the best portent)
This is part of a process for Nicodemus
Jesus challenges his preconceived notions
about how God works
Though he comes at night,
he does arrive with a certain openness
Nicodemus is focused on the “earthly things”
in his questioning
How are these signs possible?
How can one be “born again”?
So used to basing things only on what he can touch and see
How can he switch to heavenly things?
To the love and mercy of God
It is a process for him throughout the story
He must come to understand
Born from above, born of the Spirit
Heavenly and Earthly distinction
It is like speaking of the universe with different categories
Like going from Aristotle’s cause and effect
To Newtonian physics with laws of gravity
Then on to our own day with quantum mechanics
and string theory
Each way is perhaps appropriate in its context
for understanding the world
Jesus is pulling Nicodemus into a whole paradigm shift
A whole new way of seeing and living in the world
Something that his current culture had not prepared him for
Something that could not just be conceived through the law
Through their perspective of being the chosen people
It does not mean it wasn’t a good way of viewing the world
I do good, and try my best to stay in my lane
Then God will bless me
It seemed to work out that way more often than not
So the system wasn’t wrong exactly
Perhaps just not big enough to encompass all the factors
Perhaps it had also become diluted
From its original intention
Perhaps the religious and political systems
had become stale to the common people
Not speaking to their current context anymore
Whereas Jesus was speaking to their hearts and needs
Maybe the destruction of the Temple
Wasn’t going to be reversed and Roman rule was different
Than the past
Things were not going back to “normal”
How were they going to adapt to this new environment?
“Canoeing the Mountains”
Story of Lewis and Clark
Travelling to the West Coast
Thought they would find a waterway
that would lead them all the way to the Pacific Ocean
What they found were the Rocky Mountains
Imagine arriving there with boats for taking a river
And all you see are mountains upon mountains
upon mountains… Upon mountains
They had to adapt to this new context
in order to finish their journey
In many ways, the author contends
We are travelling in uncharted territory as a human species
Globalization, technology, social dynamics
Everything is shifting
but we are in many ways
using somewhat outdated models of viewing the world
and interacting with it
We are not prepared for the changes
Yet somehow there will be something new
God is working in the newness
God promises in the midst of that change and newness
To do something good and productive
We have to learn to be adaptable,
To be open like Nicodemus,
even if we don’t quite understand everything
Keep searching, questioning, asking God for more…
God’s promises are the basis of our faith
And that will never change
God’s providence in our journeys (Psalm)
Amid the dangers of life
God’s nature is to be a refuge, a shelter, a protector
Especially of the weakest and oppressed
And of all who call upon his name with their hearts
That is who God is always and forever
Because God is love.
Jesus is “lifted up” like the serpent in the wilderness
To bring healing and save the people
So that those who trust (believe) in him
would have eternal life
God sent Jesus not to condemn the world, but to save it.
How does that work with the judgment aspect?
Well, I just have to say,
We should be grateful that Jesus is the judge
The epitome of living for others
Died for others as well.
God’s love and mercy in the flesh
That is the true Word of God
And the message that
ALL who have faith are descendants of Abraham
We have to shift our paradigm,
Look first to God and God’s love
For us, and for all people, and for all creation.
That should be the basis for everything we do
It is hard to fit it with the everyday world sometimes
The hustle and bustle
The getting ahead of things
The law and the rules that keep all this going along
Vengeance and retribution
Greed and power
Death and death by heavenly standards
Yet very logical from an earthly perspective
We are called to be like Abraham
Abraham is like the epitome of the one
who needs to trust in God.
He goes out on a limb, unsure of future
But he had faith that God would be there as promised
We can step out as Abraham did, And Paul
For we are all on a journey in our lives
We are on a process of understanding
and reconciliation with God
We are on a journey of learning
how to live with love and mercy
And forgiveness, as God shows us
God’s love, is a reckless kind of love
It seeks us out and tracks us down
And if God can do that for us
Why would we hold it back from anyone else?
The reckless, never-ending love of God
It will change our paradigm
Change the way we see others
We can’t earn it, we don’t deserve it
But yet he gave his life for us.
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending. Reckless love of God.
We then sang this song: