Trinity Sunday. Lectionary readings: Isaiah 6:1-8; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17; Psalm 29
Back in the early days of texting I received one from a guy who lived quite a distance away but who I knew marginally well. I’m not really sure what the subject was but I clearly remember that he signed off with ‘LOL’. I wasn’t aware that we were that close but thought he must be saying LOL in some sort of Christian sense because in my mind LOL meant ‘Lots Of Love’.
Well, that’s not what it means, but just to be clear, it almost seemed like a comfortable way for two Christian brothers to speak.
I’ve copied the John 3 reading below, a well-known conversation between Jesus and a prominent religious leader who was afraid of being seen with him. But Nicodemus is filled with questions that he senses only Jesus can answer. Ultimately, the answer is perfect love.
Put aside your preconceptions that these verses are about ‘conversion’ or getting to heaven. Is there a deeper invitation? Deeper beauty?
There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
Nicodemus is looking for easy, linear answers for deep longings but he will discover that God is more. Jesus invites him to enter a new purpose and way of being.
Consider the mystery saturating these verses; the mystery of God’s nature in action; the mystery of the Kingdom of God. They show us the Father, the Son, the Spirit doing different work in different ways but in perfect harmony. Franciscan priest Richard Rohr comments, ‘A God who is just concerned with being right is inert, inaccessible: The law is the law is the law; there’s no wiggle room. When you have God as relational, and if the basic definition of reality is relationality, then you’ve got an open system.’ *
God’s reality is relational and it is demonstrated in the united, satisfied, three-ness of his person and activities. Rohr calls it the divine dance.
God’s relational nature is further demonstrated in how this Trinity works to provide a close connection with the Creation. His motive for reaching down to the world is the same as his internal motive – passionate love and a chance to dance with us.
How is relationship misunderstood or misused in my life?
What can I learn from God about healthy relationship?
Is there a relationship that needs to become a healthy, balanced priority? Or one that needs to be forgiven / mended?
Am I in good unison with myself or is there some division within me?
Father who loves me,
Jesus who walks with me;
Spirit who lives in me:
Help me to see unity and love in your character and in your creation. Take my heart and mind and actions and align them wholly with who you are. Help me to seek goodness and love in all my relationships and make me a blessing everywhere I walk. I rest in your perfect love.