Wednesday in Lent 1
Morning Office Readings: Psalm 119:49-72; Deuteronomy 9:13-21; Hebrews 3:12-19; John 2:23-3:15
Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night. And you know the kinds of conversations that can happen at night, when we’re a little less guarded, a little more vulnerable, a little more fluid, a little more able to say and to hear the difficult or hidden things.And the conversation doesn’t go exactly how Nicodemus expects; he shows up ready to share what he knows: Jesus is a teacher from God, after all; Nicodemus has seen the signs. He wants affirmation, agreement; he wants his empirical knowledge affirmed. How can you be born again once you’ve gr
own old? You can’t go back into the womb…
But the more concrete Nicodemus gets, the more pointedly he tries to understand, the more Jesus drifts into even more poetic and metaphorical language: “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…” Nicodemus doesn’t know what to make of it: we see world views colliding, in the middle of the night.
Maybe Nicodemus and Jesus’s talk is not so different from those late night conversations over pizza in someone’s freshman dorm; maybe it’s not so different from the best kind of pillow talk. You know those conversations; they can seem so profound in the moment, though the denotative meaning is fleeting, elusive. The content doesn’t always hold up in the light of day. But it’s the experience that transforms: the intimacy with another, the playfulness, the sheer epiphany of how much wedon’t know. Your mind and heart and soul stretch and strain to meet the call of newness, the call to something different than what you’ve known. Maybe it’s a bit like being born again.
Jesus is upending all of our expectations; Jesus is showing us again and again that we don’t know, and that it’s okay. After all, he says, that’s part of what makes the Spirit the Spirit; we don’t know how or when or where it will blow. We say I know and Jesus saysyou don’t. And I wonder if that—the paradox of knowing and not knowing— I wonder isn’t part of what draws us to Jesus, attracts us—what compels us to come to him, unbidden, under cover of darkness—and it’s what makes us afraid to give ourselves over too wholly, too completely.
May we learn the joys of not knowing; may we open ourselves to being vulnerable in the dark; may we seek out Jesus to know him, to be with him, more than to understand him. Amen.