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Dear Gulf Coast Leaders,

Keep the two newest and youngest Lutherans in our synod in your prayers: Matrix Jackson, Pastor Emmanuel and Annique Jackson’s son born early, at 1.1 pounds, and Cora Krueger, granddaughter of Assistant to the Bishop Peggy Hahn, daughter of Kristin (Contos) and Karl Krueger also born early, at 2.2 pounds.

A number of the Lenten gospels are particularly long. On April 3 (Lent 4A), we read the entire ninth chapter of John. Here’s a simple way to divide it up with a small group of readers… CLICK HERE.

You are there. Japanese Evangelical Lutheran Church reports minimal damage to churches in Tokyo. 22 ELCA mission personnel on the ground in Japan OK. Use this BULLETIN INSERT.

You can:

1. Pray

2. Study

3. Give

March 20, 2011 – Lent 2A

Genesis 12:1-4a – God calls Abram at 75 to leave his country and kindred. “I will bless you to be a blessing.”
Psalm 121 – I lift my eyes to the hills. My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. The Lord will be your shade. The sun will not strike you. The Lord will keep your going out and coming in forevermore.
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 – The promise rests not only on the adherents to the law, but to those who share the faith of Abraham.
John 3:1-17 – Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the night. Born again.

Nic @ Nite

John 3

Bishop Claire Burkat of the Southeastern Pennsylvania synod offered four possible sermon approaches during her devotion at the recent Conference of Bishops meeting. What follows are phrases to spark your thinking. See also my comments on John 3 in last week’s post: https://bishopmike.com/2011/03/05/3911-is-ash-wednesday-and-31311-is-lent-1a/

1. Nick at Night

  • Night is a mysterious private zone.
  • By telling us Nick came to Jesus at night we are put on alert.
  • Light and dark are powerful theological polarities.
  • This Jesus had turned over the tables in the temple, and turned water into wine. Is he a prophet or troublemaker?
  • Later in John, chapter 7, it’s Nick that tries to defend Jesus when the Pharisees try to arrest him. Something in this John 3 conversation worked for Nic.
  • Later, Nicodemus swiftly and loving takes Jesus’ body (just before night) and prepares it for burial. wrapping the body in spices…
  • We speak of what we know and testify what we have seen. Nic: Huh?

2. Born again

  • Flesh/Spirit is another polarity. Water and Spirit.
  • Necessary to enter the kingdom of God. How can that be?
  • Birth: to sire or beget. The begotten verb. Genesthenay. We need to be begotten a second time by a heavenly father. Nick doesn’t get this.
  • Born anew also means from above. Which is it? Both?
  • Babies do not get to decide when they are being born. God decides.
  • Brueggeman: Womb and compassion are the same word. Can I enter into God’s compassion again?

3. High and lifted up

  • Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert (Numbers 21) so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
  • Got sent the serpents to punish the people for complaining. “I’ll give you something to complain about…”
  • God punishes them for their sin, then saves them to teach them a lesson. To give physical life.
  • The son of man is lifted up not on bronze, but on a cross. To give eternal life.
  • Why does God lift him up? In order that the world might be saved through him.

4. John 3:16

  • Luther called John 3:16 the gospel in miniature.
  • God is more gracious than Luther would be: “If I were as our Lord God and those vile people were as disobedient as we, I would knock the earth to pieces.”
  • God so loved the cosmos. Perhaps not just the world, but God so loved the “universe.”
  • No one is outside the realm of God’s love. Even if I descend to Sheol, you are there.
  • This is an incarnational passage. Why not come down from the pulpit at some point? Talk, touch. Shake hands.
  • They got to whip him, spit on him, nail him to a cross, put him in a tomb.

We ought to require people to memorize 3:17 along with 3:16.