Second Sunday in Lent
Last Sunday, as the season of Lent began, we suggested that God was present in the midst of the temptations of Jesus, that God could use the ordinary struggles that Jesus faced—of bread, mortality, and power—to do extraordinary things. Over this season of Lent, we will be walking through several passages from John’s Gospel. Within each passage, we will see the examination of ordinary properties or things of this world: birth, water, light, and death. Creation is born and dies and thrives with water and light. Every day this is the ordinary and simple truth, not only for us humans, but also for billions of other organisms calling our earth home.
Yet, as this Gospel reading suggests, Jesus showed us how the Spirit could make the very ordinary stuff of our world into the extraordinary—and if he could do it with birth, water, and light, could Jesus not also do extraordinary things with our ordinary lives?
The monk and author Thomas Merton, on one ordinary day in a Louisville, Kentucky, shopping district, had a revelation that he recorded in his book Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. For no reason, he looked into the crowds of strangers and saw with everyone a connection he had never known. He saw Christ in their presence, and yet asked how he could tell others “that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
All of us enter this world through an ordinary birth. And yet Jesus begins today in the Gospel by challenging us to see ourselves born again with the Spirit. We are born through ordinary births, but also born with the Spirit; all of us are given something of Christ within to make us, as Merton would say, “shine like the sun.” Where might the extraordinary be born in the ordinary today, and where can the Spirit manifest itself in your life?
Janel Rice, pastor, Calvary Moravian Church