Sunday, April 12, 2015

Where It Goes

As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.  Acts 4:31

“What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:6-9

“We plant the seeds that one day will grow.  We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.  We lay foundations that will need further development.  We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.  We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.  This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.  It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.”  (From A Step Along the Way,” by the late Bishop Ken Untener)

We are certainly not getting a chronological telling of the Easter story today.  The Scriptures turn back the clock to the almost the beginning of John’s Gospel and focus once again on the First Encounter with Nicodemus.  With the hindsight of history, we can contrast the new-found boldness of the Acts of the Apostles with the initial timidity of Nicodemus – a timidity which will change to bold public action defending Jesus in the temple and then publicly assisting with the burial from the foot of the cross to the inside of the tomb. 

Like Nicodemus, the disciples were not always so bold.  In fact, for much of the first week of Easter, we focused on how they did not believe the evidence testified to them – evidence provided by the direct witness of their friends.  Thomas went so far as to tell his friends that that he would not believe without being able to touch the wounds of Jesus.  That’s a different kind of self-centered, audacious, and cheeky behavior for a disciple who was with Jesus for three years. 

We know how Thomas turned around his perspective.  We do not know what it was with Nicodemus.  However, we do know that something was affecting Nicodemus – gnawing at his conscience from the beginning.  We do not know where this feeling came from.  And we would not know until he assisted Joseph with the burial where it would take him.  Nicodemus was being drawn into the story of Jesus deeper and deeper while Judas was being pulled out as a traitor.

We really do not know the end of the Nicodemus story.  Jesus planted a seed with this Pharisee.  We will come to learn more about the path he will take.  By sneaking over to talk with Jesus – even under the cover of darkness – Nicodemus seized the opportunity to allow the Lord’s grace and mercy to enter his life.  Then that grace and mercy did its “spiritual magic.” 

“And so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 

What is pulling you into the Easter story? 

Are you timid about your faith?  How is the story changing you?  Has the Holy Spirit given you the gift of boldness?  

No comments: