This reading is part of the story of Nicodemus. He is a ranking Judean leader, but has a question for Jesus, so comes to him by night so he is not seen by his colleagues. In the discussion with Nicodemus, Jesus says that no one can experience God without being reborn from above.
This wordplay by the author of John. We might interpret this as John explaining our experience of God, through the Holy Spirit – as in the process of baptism. We receive water in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Like Jesus, in baptism, we too receive the Holy Spirit upon us. We pick up the reading as Jesus continues to explain God’s relationship with us.
Reading – from John, chapter 3, verses 16-21
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. 18Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’
Today is Earth Day. We are perhaps more aware of the fragility of the world in this time of pandemic. Yet, with current garbage collection practices because of the pandemic, many of us are throwing away more items and recycling less.
The gospel reading for today, April 22, begins by saying, “For God so loved the world…” Something worth thinking about. How do we as individuals and as a community love the world?
Our acquired sense of the world began when we were children. And any of us with five or more decades under our belts, were growing up at a time when we understood the world was ours for the taking. If we lived in the northern hemisphere, and affluent western world, we thought the resource-rich parts of the world were there for us to claim, extract, harvest, and sell. Doctrine of Discovery and all that.
We weren’t taught, nor did we realize or even consider the affect we had or have on the world around us. Isolated Indigenous communities have been living in polluted environments for decades. Environments that Canadian and International industry created. And yet, this is still not a priority for us as Canadians to rectify!
This is how God loves the world: giving humankind the opportunity to realize God as nearby, approachable, reachable. In Christ, God walks with us, the Holy Spirit guides us and God’s self holds us close. It says so, in the promises we make when we renew our baptismal vows: Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the Earth? We answer, I will, with God’s help.
God loves us, values us and accepts because we are part of God’s creation. We have the responsibility to care for all the parts and living beings of creation. We have the responsibility to get along with each other and care for each other, around the world. We have the responsibility.
How are we going to respond today, tomorrow, the next day? Amen.
O Source of all life, many of us have only seen a fraction of the wonder and beauty of your creation.
Guide us at this time of pandemic and unimaginable violence and disregard for human life, to be mindful of your call to us to make a difference, to value all aspects of this earth, our island home.
May we strive to value and feed each person; and ensure each has access to clear air, safe water and clean soil to plant, harvest and raise their families.
May we speak out against the harm of power over people, cultures, or countries, to the detriment of human life and the sustainability of the earth. May we be mindful that you, Creator of all we see and know, you love the world.
We ask this in the name of the one who brings justice, the one who offers peace, and the one who loves us. Amen.
Sue Nicolls, April 22, 2020