• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 9, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 16, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Lent 2 – March 20, 2011

Lent 2A RCL March 20, 2011
Genesis 12: 1-4a
Psalm 121
Romans 4: 1-5, 13-17
John 3: 1-17

In all of Scripture, Abraham stands out as the prime model of the faithful person. God calls Abram, as he is named when we first meet him, and, without hesitation, Abram gathers all his family, all his possessions, everything he has built up over a life of hard work, and heads for an unknown land.

How many of us would do that? What a difficult thing—to leave all that is familiar, all our friends, everyone and everything we know and love—and launch out into the totally unfamiliar. Yet that is what the journey of the spirit is all about.

At first glance, Nicodemus seems much more cautious than Abraham. But then he is part of the religious establishment—a Pharisee, an expert on the Law, a member of the body of ruling elders called the Sanhedrin. Wealthy, powerful. We learn later in John’s gospel that Nicodemus brings something on the order of seventy-five pounds of very precious ointments for the anointing of Jesus’ body after the crucifixion. No one but a wealthy person could afford to do such a thing.

Nicodemus has reason to be cautious. He has a lot to lose. After all, an honored elder cannot be seen associating with every new preacher who pops up around the countryside. So Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night and enters into one of those very mystical and practical dialogues that Jesus is always getting into with people.

There is no doubt in Nicodemus’ mind that Jesus is authentically from God. The healings and all those powerful events make that clear. But Jesus immediately calls Nicodemus to make a quantum leap of the spirit. He says that no one can see the kingdom of God, the realm of God, the shalom of God, without being born of water and the Spirit. I think Jesus can see that Nicodemus is a true spiritual seeker, and that Nicodemus can make that leap. But Nicodemus is still caught in the physical, literal realm. “Do I need to go back into my mother’s womb?” he wonders. No, you need to be born of water and the Spirit, Jesus answers. Pneuma, Ruach, the Spirit, the wind that blows where it will, the desert wind blowing across the sand, molding, shaping, shaping us, transforming us. The Spirit acting in Baptism, calling each of us into our God-given identity, calling us to go on that journey of finding out who we truly are, as individuals, as a Christian community, as the People of God.

And then, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he, Jesus, will be lifted up just as the serpent was lifted up (Numbers 21: 9). As the people Israel were journeying in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land, Moses made a bronze serpent and held it up, so that, when the people were bitten by poisonous snakes, they could look at the bronze serpent and be healed. Jesus will be lifted up. Healing, wholeness, comes to those who look upon the cross of Christ.

So today we have two journeyers. Abraham packs up everything into a big U Haul and heads for the land of Canaan. Nicodemus arrives full of caution, but in fact, it is a miracle that he visits Jesus at all, given his training and background. So Nicodemus, too, turns out to be an icon of one who is willing to risk and to journey with God. While this section of the gospel leaves us hanging as to the future of Nicodemus, we do know that, later on, when the Pharisees are going to kill Jesus, Nicodemus asks, “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing, does it?” (John 7: 50-51). Later in the chapter we hear of his bringing the spices for the burial of our Lord. Even if he did not become a full time follower, he was certainly a defender and supporter of Christ. That took courage. Lent is about taking the journey. Lent is about letting go of what we need to let go of, taking new paths, new directions, new disciplines, new identities, exploring new maps, new terrains. It is about the kind of faith and openness that led Abram into his new identity of Abraham, and led Nicodemus on a path to new possibilities.

Lent is about being born anew. Births are joyful, but they are not always easy or painless. All kinds of feelings happen when we are allowing new things to come to birth in us. We feel nostalgia for the way things were, sadness at leaving old landscapes behind. Sometimes we feel anger that God is prodding us to look at things and make changes. Sometimes we feel guilt at things we have done which we regret. And yet there is a deep down joy in responding to the call to change and grow and blossom. But change can be scary, and that is where faith comes in.

The journey to the Promised Land is not easy, and it can be downright scary, but the important thing is that God is with us. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is out in front leading us. The Holy Spirit is breathing new life into us. The presence of God gives us strength and hope.

Let us pray

Loving and gracious God, help us to be open to your grace and love as we journey together this Lent. Help us to trust wholly in you. Help us to listen to you and to each other as we journey in and with and toward you. Surround us with your love. In Jesus’ name.

Amen

%d bloggers like this: