Now 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." John 2:23 - 3:15
Yesterday was a rare sunny day in Sitka. It has been an unusually warm and wet January and we have had few days of dry weather. After church yesterday we decided to go out looking for whales. We drove out Saw Mill Creek Road and parked near Herring Cove and then we waited. Yesterday, we waited and waited and saw nothing. It happens. Looking for whales requires patience sometimes, and you look for the spouts - huge exhales of steam on the water - in order to see where the whales might be. They can stay submerged for six to eight minutes at a time. One has to wait until they decide to surface and show themselves. We had no luck yesterday. And yet that waiting, that hoping is often worth the time and effort. To be up close to their magnificent beauty and to watch them glide and dance in the water is a glorious moment every time.
Jesus is in Jerusalem and encounters religious leaders who want a sign. One of them, Nicodemus, is sincere about his desire to understand and know Jesus. Jesus tells him he must be born again of the spirit, that he must be remade by the spirit. This frustrates Nicodemus, and others most likely, because he wants a solid answer, some sign or miracle to see and understand. And yet Jesus invites him to be born again by spirit, to be broken open by the love of God. Something we all have to wait for. The movement of the spirit is mysterious and uncontrollable. We who want to control things, put things on a schedule and timeline are frustrated by this answer. And yet, the waiting is worth it. God's holy spirit changes lives, and moves mountains.
Today I ask God to help me let go of control and wait on the spirit. May we who are anxious about much take the time to wait and pray, trusting that all that we worry about is in God's hands. May we release our control so that we might know the blessing and beauty of the spirit's presence in our lives today.