Priest's Perspective

Monday 12 April 2021 – “you must be born again!”

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

This week I wish to share devotions on the Daily Gospel reading, using part of the St Francis De Sales method of meditation.

As we read the scriptures, I want to ask us to focus on two reflections.

In the first we imagine that we are in the Gospel reading as part of the group, and Jesus is interacting with us looking at us.

In the second part we imagine that Jesus is sitting with us, and the two of us are watching the Gospel story unfold in front of us, and Jesus is speaking to us about what is happening in your life as you learn from the text.

My input will be to provoke your thinking and hopefully you will have this conversation with God and do the exercise for yourself.

John 3:1-8

‘Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.  He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs You are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time to be born?”

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh is born of flesh, but spirit is born of the Spirit.  Do not be amazed that I said, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes. You hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

When you read this and hear of what Nicodemus did, what things come to mind?

Do you identify with Nicodemus who thinks of things in a physical practical way and misses the deep spiritual truth behind Jesus’s words? Can you feel Jesus’s eyes looking at you and Nicodemus with compassion for your fear and prejudices? In our modern world we are so busy looking for scientific facts to verify things, we think of truth as being that which we can prove and we read the bible and ask, ‘how can that be?’  We question the miracles, we question the historical evidence we question from our limited understanding. We have become very materialistic in our outlook, and Jesus is looking at us saying, ‘Truly, truly!’

 We need to reorder our minds and accept that God is the beginning of all wisdom, not our rational thinking. As Anglicans we have three pillars. Scripture, Tradition and Reason. We believe that Scripture holds all things necessary for our salvation, we believe that the teachings of the Church developed over time have proven true in varied contexts and throughout a changing history, and we believe that we are to read the Scriptures  intelligently and seek the deep spiritual meaning.  

As Jesus sits alongside us and together, we look at the scene, we see that there are many among us who are like Nicodemus. They want to believe but their life circumstances make them afraid to trust. We are to support others and journey with them through their doubts. We are to hold onto the truths of our faith and not be judgemental but compassionate. We are to love others to Christ and reach out to them.

To be born again means to reorder your affections and your way of living. St Paul said, “be transformed by the renewal of your minds, do not conform to the pattern of this world.” (Romans 12:)

What transformation does your life need? In what areas of your life do you need to reorder your faith your belief and your actions?

Let us pray.

Loving and Holy God, like Nicodemus we come to you in the darkness of our sin and insecurity,

transform our hearts that we may be reborn of the spirit and live a life devoted to you and in the power of your Holy Spirit.

At this time of the year when we focus on the resurrection may we see that we need to daily be born again into a deeper understanding, deeper devotion and deeper relationship with you.

We are a church of the resurrection, crucified with Christ and raised with Christ,

born again to live in Christ and with Christ and through Christ.

Transform us this day that we may grow into the likeness of Christ.

Amen.

( By Fr Andrew Manning)

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