March 12, 2017; 2 Lent, Year A
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?”
Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night, and he leaves perplexed. Unenlightened. For now. But a seed has been planted that will grow later into a new consciousness of courage and generosity. He has another part to play in the story.
In this first conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus speaks of being born from above, born of the spirit. He also speaks of God’s intention to draw the whole world into eternal life through the Son.
So today, I would like to share some ideas that I have about what it means to be born from above, born of the spirit. What it means to be drawn together with the whole world into eternal life through the Son.
It all starts with being here, now, in reality. It starts with being present. Thomas Keating says this: “The basic disposition in the spiritual journey is the capacity to accept all reality; God, ourselves, other people, and all creation as they are.”
The only way I find that I can accept all reality as it is, is to trust that underneath everything, including me, is an infinite love breathing all things into being, and drawing all creation into the fullness that God intends.
In the creation story in Genesis, God looks at everything God has created on each day of creation and says, “It is good.” God looks at the stars, at the earth, at the trees and birds, at you and me, and says “It is good. It is all good.”
At the core of creation and at the core of human nature is our basic goodness, our true self as God created us. That basic core of goodness is indestructible. It is God’s presence in us at the center of our being.
Do you remember when Ed Bacon was with us? He talked about the contemplative practice of resting in that deep goodness at the core of our being. He talked about moving into the gift of our oneness with God at the center of our being. Then he spoke of how from the reality of God at the core of our deepest self, we can move into the spiritual field of unified being, the infinite presence of God, and we can recognize that same divine presence at the core of the deepest being of every other person. We are all one, in God.
Quantum science tells us that nothing exists in isolation. The entire universe is an interconnected whole. Our spiritual inheritance tells us the same thing. God’s Spirit breathes all things into being, including every human being. Teilhard de Chardin, the scientist-theologian, spoke of love as the bonding energy that relates every atom within itself and within the whole. “Love is the physical structure of the universe,” he said.
He also said God’s love is drawing us toward a future, evolving life from simple atoms into ever more complex forms of relationship and consciousness. Now, in human beings, mineral and vegetable and animal have evolved to become conscious enough to reflect on creation itself and to be in conscious relationship to God and to one another. Now, in us, creation has become conscious enough to know that we are born from above.
God is breathing all creation into being through the Word, the Spirit incarnate, God becoming stuff, becoming us. All of creation is participating in the dance of the Trinity – Lover, Beloved, and the Breath-Spirit of Love. The Lover emptying the divine self into the incarnate Beloved and the Breath-Wind-Spirit of Love that makes Lover and Beloved One. God loving another in order to be love in another, and to be loved by the other. Forever.[i] This is the mysterious dance of love that stands before the curious Nicodemus, inviting him to dance and play.
Love incarnate, teasing, dancing, urging Nicodemus toward the wholeness that is perfect freedom. “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.” All Nicodemus can say is, “How can these things be?”
But Nicodemus stayed curious. He must have watched as love incarnate welcomed the stranger, fed the hungry, healed the sick, and created a community of reconciliation. He must have watched as Jesus challenged all of the barriers that separated people from the generous, forgiving, acceptance that is God’s gift to all people. He must have watched when they arrested Jesus for interfering with the Temple’s business monopoly over forgiveness, for Nicodemus spoke up bravely from his position in the Sanhedrin, defending Jesus on trial. When Jesus was convicted as a capital criminal and executed, Nicodemus bought the expensive spices and helped Joseph of Arimathea give criminal’s body an honorable burial. The Spirit breathed courage and generosity into Nicodemus.
“So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Now it is our turn. We are invited to be born from above, born of water and Spirit. It is our turn to be alert and awake, here and now. It is our turn to be conscious of the goodness at the core of our being, God breathing us into being through love. Conscious of our interrelationship with all of creation and conscious of our union with every other human being as God’s beloved.
We are given the gift of eternal life. We are invited to share in the work of the Son: to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves. “So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
[i] Thanks to Ilia Delio and her article Love at the Heart of the Universe, published in Oneing, Spring 2013, Vol. 1, No. 1. Center for Action and Contemplation.
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