by Bruce Laverman
Lectionary (Year A): Revised Common Lectionary: Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17 or Matthew 17:1-9
Theme: What does “born again” mean?
Message: “A Seekers Conversation With Jesus”
Who was Nicodemus and why did he go to visit Jesus one night?
What did the term “born again” mean in the original “Nicodemus” context?
Jesus made it clear that Nicodemus and everyone else has to be reborn. In the same way that we did not will ourselves into being, so we also are completely dependent on a source outside of ourselves to experience spiritual rebirth. This word, in the Greek “anothen” is best translated “born from above, i.e., born of God.” We cannot take pride in the fact that we found the Lord, but realize that by His grace God found us.
Now in one sense spiritual rebirth only happens once when we pass from death to life. But, in another sense all of life is a series of rebirths. Rebirth of values. Rebirth of goals and priorities. Rebirth of ethics. Rebirth of relationships. Rebirth of our sense of time and money.
Quote(s): “To most Americans the term is an unknown quantity.” John Chancellor, NBC News
C. S. Lewis, in his book, Surprised By Joy, “Emotional is perhaps the last word that we can apply to some of the most important events. It was more like when a man, after a long sleep still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake.”
Film, other visual aids:
“City of Joy” 1992. A wonderful movie about a man (Swayze) searching for meaning in his life. It is only in his giving up his life that he starts to live. To live for God. To truly live. (Submitted by Nancy Russo in Sermon Writer, Resources for Lectionary Preaching www,textweek.com)
Music: “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God,” “God So Loved the World,” “Grace Greater Than Our Sin”
Open our ears, Lord, to your truth.
Open our bodies to your healing.
Open our souls to your cleansing.
Open our wills to your molding.
Prayer of Confession:
For the pride that erects a barrier between ourselves and others, let us pray for pardon (Pause)
For the hidden thoughts that we dare not reveal to others, let us pray for pardon (Pause)
For the jealousy that we allow to smolder in our souls, let us pray for pardon (Pause)
For the good deeds that we allow to go undone, let us pray for pardon.
Assurance of Pardon:
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. I John 5:13
Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
Lord, we wish to be good stewards, good caretakers, of all that we have and all that we are. Receive these gifts as one expression of that sense of responsibility.
Go on your way encouraged by your faith, emboldened by your commitment, and assured of your status as a child of God.
Prayers: LeRoy Koopman, 2011 Liturgical Publications Inc, LPi Resource Center, P.O. Box 510817, New Berlin, Wisconsin 53151-0817, 1-800-950-9952 x 2469