Weekly Liturgy : February 27-March 5
Jesus Sits with Nicodemus
The Message Translation
1-2 There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”
3 Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”
4 “How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”
5-6 Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.
7-8 “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”
9 Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”
10-12 Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?
13-15 “No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.
16-17 “This is how God loves the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
When I read this text, I think of the cliché: seeing is believing. It is true that I myself am often a skeptic until I am given a reason to believe. I lose patience with stories I perceive to be far-fetched. Don’t ask me to believe a claim without evidence to back it up, ya know?
I suspect Nicodemus might describe himself similarly, which makes Jesus’ responses as difficult for me as they probably were for the Pharisee. Sometimes, believing is seeing, Jesus seems to be saying. I don’t wan’t to admit it, but I think he’s right.
If we want to end up in the World-Made-Right reality that Jesus is talking about; if we want to experience deep and fully-alive versions of ourselves, sometimes we have to flip our values and ways of making meaning first.
At Church at the Park, we think this means committing to non-violence, centering the poor and the powerless, and mimicking the ways of Jesus, even when the evidence suggests we should do something different. Perhaps if we can learn to do this together, we'll discover a community of abundance on the otherside.
Outward Mindset Application
Think of and implement one change to the way you do your job that will make you more helpful to a coworker who is affected by your role.
Pathways Toward Centeredness
Contemplation (loving the world through adoration): The Examen is a prayer technique developed by Christians centuries ago. This variation is intended to be practiced at the end of each day. Try it this week! Thanksgiving What am I especially grateful for in the past day . . . The gift of another day... The love and support I have received... The courage I have mustered... An event that took place today... Petition I am about to review my day; I ask for the light to know God and to know myself as God sees me. Review Where have I felt true joy today? What has troubled me today? What has challenged me today? Where and when did I pause today? Have I noticed God's presence in any of this? Response In light of my review, what is my response to the God of my life? A Look Ahead As I look ahead, what comes to mind? With what spirit do I want to enter tomorrow?
Questions for Reflection
What helps you gain confidence in upside-down values like Outward Mindset, service, Non-Violent Communication, or empathy? If you could ask Jesus any questions you wanted, which would you be most excited to ask? Which would make you nervous to ask?
One of our community practices is to gather every Sunday morning for prayer, friendship, and conversation about the week’s Scripture text. Doors open at 10:30am for coffee and donuts. Our circle begins at 11:00am. We’d love to see you there! The Open Table (@ The old DMV) 2640 N Portland Rd Salem, OR 97301
“Liturgy” refers to the habits and practices humans use to form community around shared values and meaning. At Church at the Park, we desire to be a community of practice, becoming people who see the world through the eyes of the marginalized, making meaning through the lens of pain and suffering, and committing ourselves to non-violence in a wounded world. This weekly email is intended to provide pathways of practice for becoming the type of people who embody these values.
Many of our reflections on each week's text come from other sources. If you're interested in reading more of what inspires us, here our our two favorite reflections.