Jesus challenges Nicodemus, who desperately wants to understand what he should do. A good man, who is trying to understand what God wants from his life, and is frustrated by Jesus' seemingly confusing answers. Many of us daily ask the same thing of God. And evangelicals sometimes narrowly define being born again as one single explosive moment of commitment. I am convinced, at this age in my life, that what Jesus was talking about was a daily event.
Several years ago I traveled with my mother to Oklahoma. It was shortly after 911, and during Advent. My tribe has asked me to come to my homelands to pray with my people. It was a warm and embracing event for all of us, but I noticed my mother had an overwhelmed look on her face at the end of the service. I thought at first she might be coming down with something. I asked her, and she told me that, when the Children Choir was singing Christmas carols in Cherokee, she remembered every word and was able to sing along. She was transported to her life as a small child, sitting on a relatives lap, singing and speaking in her native language. I saw my mother in that moment as a small child, and the time we spent in Tahlequah was one of connecting with all of those things she remembered with such joy. She was transformed, she was fully a child, safe, trusting, full of wide-eyed adventure, seeing the world as a gift. She was born again.
I am convinced that we are daily invited to be born again. To open our hearts and minds to God's abundant love in our lives. We are daily welcomed to be like small children, seeing the world and each other as possibility, rather than threat. For all of us, that can be a daunting task. The world isn't a safe place, and we think if we can just control our environment enough, we will be safe. But only God is in charge, and we can never really control our days, let alone our whole lives. Nicodemus thought the same, he just wanted to do things right. But Jesus invited him to be transformed to that vulnerable child who can trust God in every moment, in every day. Be born again, he invited him, be transformed into the child you were created to be, totally dependent on the activity and love of God.
I struggle with trust. Many people do. My prayer is that I can daily be born again. That each of us can wake to the possibility of God in the face of our human limitations. I pray that all of us can wake, renewed, reformed, a vulnerable and receptive child of a God who loves us more than we can imagine, more perfectly than any human parent, and who wants for us the fullness of live on earth and in heaven.