This coming Sunday we’ll read of Nicodemus’ meeting with Jesus (John 3). Nicodemus and his circle of influence have a hard time with Jesus’ message. Jesus spent too much time with the folks from “the other side of the tracks.” In their eyes, it was a shame Jesus couldn’t be just like them. This young man with so much potential is just headed down the wrong path, and to think, he could be righteous just like those religious leaders--the Pharisees. Their disappointment in him is understandable, Jesus is disrupting the way things have always been.
From that context Nicodemus emerges from the darkness and asks the light of the world “Can I begin again?”
Jesus replies, “Yes!”
The Greek’s second person plural pronoun is best translated to my favorite word: “Y’all must be born again!” Y’all cannot miss out on this! Y’all are invited!”
Jesus says to the religious temple folks they must be able to leave the old life behind, intentionally let their old ways fall by the wayside, for there is nothing sacred but the mission ahead of us! Abundant life is here! The old is gone, the new has come! Grace has arrived in the flesh and you’re missing out! Get with it.
Yes, it means leaving some of our old habits, prejudices, and weaknesses behind. It means unlearning the ways of the world- racism, sexism, homophobia. It is a letting go (or a shedding off) of egoism, distrust, and isolation (the list goes on!) This being reborn is hard because we constantly cling to those familiar ways.
I love how Nadia Bolz-Weber puts it: “Lent isn’t about punishing ourselves for being human – the practice of Lent is about peeling away layers of insulation and anesthesia which keep us from the truth of God’s promises. Lent is about looking at our lives in as bright a light as possible, the light of Christ.”
Are you in? Are you coming along? This is more than just a Lenten practice, this is shift in what we want our future to look like. What will we take up going forward? How can we re-enter our world as a people more oriented toward God’s justice and grace? What if the church was less about rules and obligations and restrictions, checking the boxes, like the Pharisees would have it, and more about experiencing God’s joy, delight, inclusion, and liberation?
See Y’all Sunday,