The Holy Gospel according to John, the 3rd chapter. Glory to you, O Lord.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." 3 Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." 4Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, "You must be born from above.' 8 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." 9 Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" 10 Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11"Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 "Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
I speak to you this morning in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
This is Holy Trinity Sunday. Today we celebrate our One God who has three names, who is known to us in three ways. With God the Trinity, it’s all about love. It’s all about the relationship.
Today we hear in our scripture readings that we are God’s own children. How does that happen? What does it mean?
Nicodemus went to see Jesus in the dark of night with questions. Even though he was a teacher of Israel, he was confused about these things. He and Jesus had a long conversation about what it means to be born anew as a child of God.
When we are baptized we receive adoption as children of God. We are welcomed into the Christian family. We are baptized in the name of the Trinity, the name that is all about love, all about the relationship.
In baptism, we hear God’s promise to love us and be with us always, and to give us eternal life. Our parents and sponsors and the rest of our church family promise to help us live our lives in this relationship with God’s faithful people.
In our second reading, Paul also tells us we are God’s own children. Paul tells us that because we are children of God we share the inheritance with Christ, our brother.
On this Memorial Day weekend, we remember what we have inherited from those who died fighting for our country. We are grateful today that we have inherited the freedom to worship as we wish. We have also inherited to freedom to speak openly about our political beliefs. We are grateful for the freedom to work for justice and peace in all the world. We pray for the day when there is no more war, that day when all swords and spears and guns will be beaten into plowshares and pruning hooks.
But, as much as we love our country, as much as we are grateful for our freedoms, we know that our country isn’t perfect. It certainly has its faults. We know that life in this world is nothing compared to our inheritance in the commonwealth of God. We know that our relationship with God is the most important in our lives. Our allegiance to God is higher than any allegiance we pledge to country.
Our baptismal promises talk about our inheritance with Christ. We promise to regularly hear the word and share the supper. We promise to teach our children the scriptures, the Lord’s Prayer, the 10 commandments, and the Creed. We do these things to help them love and trust God. To help them proclaim the good news in word and deed. To work for justice and peace in all the world. It’s all about the relationship in God’s family.
When I think about the relationship of children to their parents, one of the first things I think about is listening. Children listen to their parents even before they are born. They can recognize their parents voices from birth because they have heard them talking from the womb.
I know that when I was a child, a long time ago, one of the most basic things I learned was to listen to my parents. It was often phrased emphatically, “You better be listening to me!” Or, “Listen to me when I tell you something!” Listening to parents wasn’t an optional activity. There was no other choice, no other good choice anyway. Listen didn’t just mean hearing what they were saying. The word “obey” was implicit in the word “listen.”
When my parents told me to listen, there was power in their words. However, it was nothing compared to the power in the voice of the Lord. Our psalmist today tells us that the voice of the Lord can make cedar trees fall, strip a forest bare, cause oak trees to whirl around, shake up a wilderness, make a whole country dance like a young calf.
We know that the voice of the Lord has the power of all creation. God spoke the world into existence. God said, “Let there be light.” And it was so.
In our first lesson today, Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord. This reading is remembered as the story where Isaiah is called to be a prophet. It is both an amazing and terrifying story.
Picture it! Six-winged angels are flying all over the place. There is an earthquake and everything is shaking. The beams and pillars holding up the building are trembling. The whole temple is filled with billowing smoke. The angels are singing, “Holy, holy, holy!”
Isaiah is terrified, not just because of everything going on around him, He is terrified because he has seen the Lord. Isaiah knows he is a sinful person. He knows that everyone else is, too. No one can see the Lord and live.
But, with God, it’s all about love; it’s all about the relationship.
Beloved, you and I are children of this all-loving, almighty, and all powerful God. We are just like Isaiah. We said it out loud at the beginning of the worship. We have sinned against God and each other. We have done things we should not have done. We have not done some of the things we should have done.
As children of God, we better be listening to what the Lord is saying.
What is the all-loving, almighty, and powerful voice telling you today?
Let me share a few of the things I hear today:
I hear the voice say -
You must be born from above, again, anew.
God so loves the world.
God did not come into the world to condemn the world.
God did not come into the world to condemn you.
God came to save the world, to save you.
The Son of Man must be lifted up on the cross.
Whoever believes in Christ will have eternal life.
The Lord gives strength to the people.
The Lord blesses the people with peace.
The Lord is enthroned as king forever.
Holy, holy, holy!
Glory to God in the highest!
The Spirit of God blows where she chooses.
All who are led by the Spirit are children of God.
You are joint heirs with Christ.
You will be glorified with Christ.
You are God’s children. With God, it’s all about love, it’s all about the relationship.
What do you hear when you listen to God’s voice?
What is God saying to you? Who are the people God is calling you to love? Where is God calling you to work for justice and peace?
I hear the voice of God saying,
“Whom shall I send, and who shall go for us?”
Isaiah said: “Here am I; send me!”
Say it with me: “Here am I; send me!”