Bright Thursday – REFRESHINGFr. Barnabas Powell
Christ is risen!
Ah, the beauties of Springtime! And the hay fever! For those of us susceptible to the reign of terror that is pollen season; the watery eyes, the stuffy nose, basically all the bad stuff on all the commercials we see for medicine to combat this scourge of this wonderful season; we love and hate this time of year!
Especially when the wind is blowing around all that yellowish-green pollen that coats our cars, our houses, and our NOSE!
And yet, I love this time of year with those gentle breezes and even the spring showers that clean the air and cool the day! Just watching the breeze blow through the tree branches in my backyard is enough to relax me and put life into perspective. Even though I can’t see the wind, I can follow its path by the effects it has on the nature around me.
Look at our Gospel Lesson in John 3:1-15 on this Bright Thursday:
At that time, there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nikodemos, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nikodemos said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The Spirit blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, and you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nikodemos said to him, “How can this be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven. And 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.”
Nikodemus is having trouble with this teaching. He recognizes that Jesus is a great “rabbi” but when he comes to the Lord under the cover of darkness, out of fear for his reputation, Nikodemus stumbles over the Lord’s teaching that we humans must be “born of water and the Spirit.” We must be “born from above.” And it is Nikodemus’ confusion that Jesus focuses on as He confronts Nikodemus with his inability to understand this basic teaching of Christ. Nikodemus should get this but he doesn’t.
What a price we pay when we fail to humbly pay attention to the subtle wisdom of the work of God in the world. We miss things that should be obvious to us. We get confused by basic teachings and that keeps us from being able to embrace deeper wisdom. All because we don’t foster a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit as He moves in our world!
Today, where is your life confused? Where are you in the dark about just how to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ? Have you recognized the “blowing” of the Wind of the Spirit in your life, that gentle breeze of God’s refreshing Presence meant to wake you up to the new life Christ has won for you in His victory over death? You can, but it’s going to take some quietness in your life; some focus, and some willingness by you to shut out the distractions that so easily blind us to the wind of God’s actions. You are called to live out the new life of being born of the water and the Spirit. You are called to be Orthodox on Purpose.
P.S. Our Paschal Message invites you to help me share this ministry with more people. I pray you say “yes” to a special Paschal gift to Faith Encouraged Ministries this year! Just go to www.FaithEncouraged.org and click on the Donate button!