20 March 2011/Lent 2A – Genesis 12:1-4a/John 3:1-17
The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, Mount Calvary Church, Baltimore, Maryland
At The Crossroad
Abram and Nicodemus – we are meant to see that these two figures of our faith stand for us. Just as they also play a role similar to Mary the Mother of God.
Our text from Genesis is deceptively small, yet in a sense tells the entire story of scripture in slightly less than four verses. Abram is called by God to “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” Abram’s country was a city named Haran, which means “highway” or “crossroad.”
All of us at one time or another stand at a crossroad – and it can easily be argued that every moment of every day is a kind of crossroad. Every moment demands of us a choice for life or a choice for death, a choice for good or a choice for bad.
To stand at the crossroad can be paralyzing. We look one way, we look another, we look back, we look forward. It can be a moment, it can seem like an eternity, standing at the crossroad.
We stand and we wonder: Am I ready to go? Am I prepared to move on? Do I have what it takes to go this way or that? Am I good enough to do what is being asked?
Until something or someone moves us – gets us “off the dime” as we used to say. In Abram’s case it is the Lord. He is meant to leave all that is comfortable, familiar, “home,” and initiate God’s new plan for all the peoples of the earth. Abram quite honestly could have replied, and perhaps in some unreported moment did, “I am not really qualified for this task. Surely you must mean someone else!”
Yet, our own experience, and the witness of scripture from beginning to end is that the one who calls is the one who qualifies – the one who calls is the one who equips. So if God is doing the calling, the answer to all of the questions we might have is “yes.” A faithful response for us is to say yes, and to begin moving from what is known to what is promised.
It is the same story with Nicodemus in our Gospel. He knows well all the ways of the God of Sarah and Abraham, Rebecca and Isaac, Rachel, Leah and Jacob – or so he thinks. He has spent a lifetime so far teaching and interpreting for others what God asks of us.
Yet, in Jesus he senses that God is at work doing something new – something bold – something never before imagined! He approaches Jesus cautiously in the dark of night, lest anyone who knows him and respects his judgments see him with this new manifestation of God’s purpose for a broken world.
And what does Jesus say, but that one must be born from above or again (the Greek word can mean both and it really doesn’t matter which meaning we take here). “Are you kidding,” asks Nic? Speaking for all of us he blurts out, “How can these things be?” Only Nic has the courage to ask that on our behalf, for we are Nicodemus, just as we are Abram being asked to head off in a new direction, on a new adventure, to initiate some new thing God has in mind for the whole world.
Jesus says the Spirit is like the wind – you know not where it comes from, when it is coming, nor do you know where it is taking you – but the Spirit is of God and all you need to do is say, “Yes!”
Just as Abram and Sari said “yes,” just as Mary the Mother of God said “yes” – just as Noah, Moses, Jeremiah, Peter, Andrew, James, John, Mary and Martha, and Mary Magdalene all said “Yes!”
Not one of them had the qualifications to do what God was asking – not one of them was equipped, prepared or in any way ready to do what God was asking, and yet, they said “yes” and here we are. Without their "yes" we would not be here.
As we enter more deeply into this season of Lent, we must listen for the wind! We must be ready to sense the slightest breeze or puff of the wind of God’s spirit – just a breath is all we need to feel, to sense, for us to leave the crossroad and go to where God needs us to bring blessings to all people – as Abram was promised to be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth.
As we hear the incarnate Word of God declaring – For God so loves the world that God gives….
"God does not give us gifts that are separate from him. He gives himself to us."
Like Abram and Nicodemus, this Second Sunday in Lent we stand at a crossroad. God in Christ Jesus is calling to us to leave our places of comfort and to head out to be a blessing to the peoples of the world.
No matter how challenging that may seem, God will equip us for the task as he has for generations before us and will continue to do for generations to come as we embrace and hold fast to the unchangeable truth of God’s Word! Amen.