Sermon on John 3:1-17 for May 27, 2018, Pentecost B Audio Version here
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. 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.”
How do you experience God? I guess I am assuming that you do have experiences that you feel OK identifying as experiences of God, or of the Divine, or Transcendent. Nearly everyone does.
Today is the day we think about our experience of God. We are following in the footsteps of the early church that eventually came up with the word Trinity. The Trinity is the word we use, to sum up the uncanny way in which our experience of God is not singular, or simple, but variegated, diverse.
Most of us experience moments of awe and wonder, of amazement. Experiences of vastness often set off those feelings – the sea, the vista from the top of a mountain. Think of all the people who go to Mount Magazine or Petite Jean just to be at the top and look out as far as the eye can see.
Some people get that same feeling from the amazing microscopic world, or from the Hubble spacecraft pictures of deep space. When we think of the vastness and complexity, the beauty that sometimes strikes us so deeply it almost hurts, we think of God, the Source, the Creator, or we could say, God the Father.