Sunday, March 20, 2011
God So Loved the World
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever 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 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." John 3:1-17
Last night, as we were returning from a farewell dinner with a dear friend, full of wonderful Korean Barbecue and sweet promises of seeing each other again soon, we can across a rise to a breathtaking sight - the full spring moon. The huge orb was green to the eye and sweetly benign of face. Every time the road curved and dropped we were again awed by the beauty, silent and promising of this spring moon, so close and so familiar, yet so changing too. Looking on the beauty of creation, love springs forth, even in human beings - a mother's first glance at her newborn's face stayed imprinted forever -one can imagine how God looks upon us, with such fullness of love that no sacrifice is too great an act of love.
Nicodemus is trying to understand what God requires of him. He is trying to find rules to govern his life. He is a theologian, a teacher and a faithful leader. Jesus tells him that God requires him to be born from the heart of love, to be in relationship with God as infant to parent, vulnerable and openly needy. This is hard for any of us to understand, especially the learned and the responsible among us. The extreme love of God for us is hard to stretch our imagination around, let alone opening our hearts completely to our own need of God.
Today, I ask God to help me give thanks for my need and vulnerability. I ask God to help me see the look of love in the face of God and God's imprint on the face of all I encounter today. May our vulnerability be offered up to the great love of God for each and every one of us.