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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Second Sunday in Lent: Born Again

3/16

 Sooner or later this morning, we’re going to have to get around to dealing with, 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…..and we’re going to have to talk about being born again, too, that’s where we are this Sunday in Lent.

Even though Joe and La Toya were gone before I got here, I had a lot of sweeping to do. Dion shows up in plenty of time to help me set up. Two young Korean men  have joined us and a young man from the neighborhood as well.
On our way there, we stopped to talk about Abraham becoming the father of many nations. But it’s the gospel where we’re headed. The story of Nicodemus. John 3: 1-17.  The wrangle around born from above, born from again. Nicodemus’ cynical response to Jesus.  Jesus was clearly talking about a new spiritual awakening. But maybe that’s not far from being born again. It’s not the sole aegis of the Pentecostals or evangelicals. It’s something that happens over and over and over again, one hopes in a lifetime. This church was born again when we came back into it full time in  March 2011. I feel I’m in process. It’s always there.
My favorite verse in this section is 8The 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. That’s part of the answer to the those who want to challenge us on the born again issue…the wind blows where it wills..if God is truly God then God can do what God wants when God wants with whomever God wants. Not up to us. To believe differently is to be guilty of the sin of Adam, IE wanting to have the full knowledge of the mind of God, like we talked about last week.
But sooner or later, we’ve got to get around to John 3:16. I believe that you’ve got to read that in light of the wind where it wills.  But Jeremy wants to challenge that. He, like most of us has had someone close who has a true born again experience then quotes this passage, with the clear idea that anyone who does not believe in Jesus is headed to burn in hell. I’ve never been able to figure out why some of us in order to feel right, have to know that someone somewhere is going to hell and that they know why. Well, truth be told, I feel that way too, sometimes, we’re just working in different categories. 
I want to struggle with what Jeremy asks. It’s basic. I raise the hermeneutic issue again, that is we all choose an interpretive key and interpret everything else through that. If you start with God is love, you wind up one place with this. And if you’re listening for an exclusivity, you’ll wind up somewhere else. When I hear these words, 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, I often feel like I can affirm them completely. Though there’s nothing in that passage definitive as to how exactly that’s going happen. I prefer it that way. The mystery.
My visitor from the neighborhood had an interesting both/and take on the issue. And my Korean friends had never heard anything quite like this before.
It’s a season that offers rebirth. Renewal. I’m not the best guide for that, though I often feel it happening. There’s an opening up, a letting go, a letting be…allowing our self to move with the earth as it pushes itself out from this too long deep freeze.

Wayne has come in during the service. Haven’t seen him for awhile. Just in the nick of time. It’s St.Patrick’s Day weekend and we’ve already had a song from the Scottish psalter and one from  Wales so we’ve got to do Irish. And this time that means He Looked Beyond My Fault, that beautiful Dottie Rambo song set to Danny Boy.

Amazing Grace will always be my song of Praise, for it was Grace that brought me liberty, I do not know just why he came to love me so, he looked beyond my fault and saw my needs. I shall forever lift my eyes to Calvary, to view the Cross where Jesus died for me, how marvelous his Grace that caught my falling soul, he looked beyond my fault and saw my needs. I shall forever lift my eyes to Calvary, to view the cross where Jesus died for me, how marvelous his Grace that caught my falling soul, he looked beyond my fault and saw my needs. He looked beyond my fault and he saw my needs

I was ready to give it a shot, but seriously…Wayne has that gentle tenor touch to pull it off. And with no rehearsal, he and Jeremy do it fine and there are amens and applause.

Our final hymn is another Irish one, Be Thou My Vision. I will never, ever, forget Bill Schimmel with his accordion singing that song like a nearly broken farmer in the midst of the potato famine. Gruff, of the earth, but still standing firm.

We close our circle. And then the session meets to discuss the week in court ahead.

                                                      * * * *

On the issue of being born again, you might try Hello, Hooray by Rolf Kempf.
Ready as the rain to fall, just to fall again
Ready as a man to be born, only to be born again,
I’ve been waiting so long for another song
I’ve been thinking so long I was the only one
We’ve been hoping so long for another song


And listen to Judy Collins. Not Alice Cooper. Please.




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