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
I have been spending the weekend in Point Lay attending the Arctic Deanery meeting. We have been working, singing and praying all day and well into the night. Last night there was a service of blessing of the whale captains and their crews. The little church of St. Alban's was packed to the gills, young and old alike gathered together. The windows were rattling with the strength of the songs. Moms and Dads came in from the blistering cold wind, with their little babies on their backs, snuggled warm inside their parkas. The love, tenderness, and interdependence is so visible here. The spirit is strong and beautiful.
Nicodemus didn't understand the spirit of God so he came to Jesus in the might. He had witnessed something he couldn't understand. He might have been embarrassed, but he sought Jesus out. When Jesus told him he must be born again, again Nicodemus didn't understand. He persisted. And in his persistence we hear Jesus say the most spoken and remembered words - God so loved the world. More than the passionate and fierce love of a parent, the interdependent love and joy of an isolated community, more love than we can imagine, is what Jesus told Nicodemus about. Love that is ours today, protecting us from all that would tear us apart or take us down.
As this day comes to a close, and we get ready to head home, may we all remember these visions of love. Whenever we have these experiences of great joy, may we give thanks to God for a glimpse of the love of God. May we sing and give thanks to the one who would offer all for us today.
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.