Christians live in two worlds. We dwell in an earthly realm
where we experience life through our five senses and interact
with things reasonable, rational, ordinary, and necessary. We
are all part of the natural world governed by physical laws and
moral agreements. This is the world into which we are born.
But Jesus awakens us to a second reality and shares with
Nicodemus that to experience this second reality fully we must
be “born from above.” That phrase, sometimes translated as
“born again,” elicits a variety of reactions, but at its basic level
it clarifies that life is more than what we experience in the
physical realm. It acknowledges a spiritual reality that requires
a spiritual birth. Our baptism with water consecrates us to
God, and we accept the grace and love that God freely gives.
Our baptism with the Spirit deepens the covenant, and we give
ourselves completely to God and to discerning and doing God’s
will. “Born of the Spirit” means we will develop and use our
spiritual gifts for the greater good, and the evidence of the infilling
of God’s Spirit comes through our being more loving, more
joyful. We are peacemakers; we are patient, generous, faithful,
kind, gentle; and we exercise exemplary self-control.
We live by different rules and model different priorities.
The common good is a higher priority than having our own way.
We use our time for building relationship with God through
prayer, reflection on scripture, and worship, while building
relationships in Christian community through faith sharing,
accountability, and Christian service. We become new people in
Jesus Christ, and we bear witness to the transforming power of
the Holy Spirit.
Come Holy Spirit, work within me. Use my gifts to serve others, and produce within me spiritual fruit of kindness, love, joy, and generosity. Allow others to know your love and grace through me, O Lord. Amen.
Faith in God and deliverance by God are themes that dominate these scriptures. Abraham casts aside all baser loyalties and in daring fashion entrusts life and well- being to God’s care. Abraham follows God’s initiatives into new realms of loyalty and purpose. Paul reminds us that while Abraham models good works, his righteousness results from his faith. Nicodemus models an Abraham who has yet to leave Ur of the Chaldees. Nicodemus’s comprehension of God’s initiatives is shallow and sterile. The psalm for this day greets with joy God’s invitation to renewal.
• Read Genesis 12:1-4a. How is God calling you to leave behind the familiar for some new opportunity?
• Read Psalm 121. What aspect of this psalm draws your attention? What offers you comfort and hope? To whom do you turn for help?
• Read Romans 4:1-5, 13-17. What distinction do you draw between your doing great things for God and God’s doing great things through you?
• Read John 3:1-17. What experience does the phrase born again bring to your mind? Does it foster positive notions? In what ways do you evidence your baptism in the Spirit?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.