Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.
‘Busy being born’
At Thursday's Bible study we listened to Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind" as a song about the Wind, Breath or Spirit of God. "The answer, my friend," Jesus might have said to Nicodemus, "is blowin' in the wind". The answer to all manner of questions -
Nicodemus' question is "How can an adult be born a second time?" Sometimes it's tempting to hear the question as a question from a fool. What a dolt, we think or say. He doesn't understand the metaphor. He doesn't comprehend the higher meaning. I've gone along with this kind of reading before.
It strikes me now, though, and in light of recent scholarship at the manse, that this kind of reading lacks respect -
Our picture to colour-
Some scholars say he came at night for reasons of fear or secrecy. Others say it was a typical after-
Perhaps that's the reason Jesus offers the metaphor in the first place. It's an apt thing to say. It's in keeping with the conversation. In other words, these two people of faith may be seen as offering mutual encouragement. Nicodemus certainly draws from Jesus a lengthy [Lenten] discourse on God's love for the world in need of saving (arguably the most well-
In chapter 7, Nicodemus is a lone witness among the Pharisees and chief priests in defence of Jesus whose downfall they plot and whom they disparage as a "Galilean", a hick, that is, a hillbilly/bumpkin/bogan. Nicodemus refuses to play along. "Since when does our Law condemn anyone without first hearing the accused and knowing all the facts?" he asks. Nicodemus, of course, has heard from the accused and knows at least some of the facts.
In chapter 19, Nicodemus joins Joseph of Arimathea to remove the body of Jesus from the cross. Nicodemus brings "about one hundred pounds of spices, a mixture of myrrh and aloes" so to prepare the body of Jesus for burial.
These public displays of affection, respect and loyalty evince a person very much alive to the presence and purpose of God -
He deserves our respect.
After all, he is not so unlike us. "How can an adult be born a second time?" It's actually a very good question.
How can we honour the wisdom and riches of a tradition, collectively and personally, and yet start again? How might we risk everything we know and have become in the name of a deeply respectful curiosity? Can I open my heart and mind -
Lyn is joining Catholic friends this morning to worship at St Vincent's in Redfern Street. She will be welcomed there, yet may well experience some awkwardness in relation to parish history and liturgy. She won't partake of the Eucharist. Like Nicodemus, she is taking a risk in the name of a respectful curiosity -
Most people, most of the time, go to where they are known -
But sometimes we're inspired to embrace the awkwardness, to improvise, even to enact change. Sometimes a respectful curiosity -
In July 2012 in Adelaide, the members of the 13th Assembly of the Uniting Church listened to members of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress tell stories about the effects of the federal government's "Stronger Futures" legislation (and the "Intervention" before that) on their lives and their communities.
The Assembly members were very moved by the stories of harm and exclusion and responded in two ways. The first was to "down tools" and make a silent procession through the streets to the South Australian Parliament to pray and sing in a public vigil of lament. The second was to adopt a resolution calling on the Church to engage in a week of prayer and fasting for justice for the First Peoples.
Miriam is heading to Canberra tomorrow as part of that promised week of prayer and fasting. Daily reflections and discussions will centre on: The Injustice of Dispossession; The Cost of Racism; Dignity Denied -
The Assembly is encouraging all congregations to dedicate next Sunday's worship (March 23) to the theme: A Destiny Together. We'll do that. Our Affirmation of Faith today comes from a set of resources prepared for that service. Let's complete the homily now by standing and saying these words together ... Amen.