Two Words

John 3:1-17The Second Sunday of Lent – for Sunday, March 12, 2017

“Nicodemus said, ‘How are these things possible?’” (John 3:9)

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. He came to Jesus and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God . . .”

So began a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, between a “Jewish leader” and the upstart from Galilee. The established order and the disrupter meet. The one with questions on how to live seeks to learn from the One asking questions that lead to living now.

For this second Sunday of Lent, did you notice that two words were absent from the verse quoted in the opening sentence?

Just two.

He came to Jesus at night and said to him . . .

Do those two words make a difference?

It was at night, while making dinner, when I asked my wife to marry me.

It was at night, in a phone call with a frightened voice, when a church member once called me. He wanted me to be with him after his house was burglarized.

It was at night when my older sister phoned and told me Dad had died.

It was at night that a nurse called, informing me that Mom had died.

It was at night . . . Continue reading →

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Lent 2: Witnessing God’s Face

Psalm 27The Second Sunday of Lent* – for Sunday, February 21, 2016

“Come my heart says, seek God’s face . . .” (Psalm 27:8)

But another year vanishes without a trip into the glorious “range of light.”
But another year vanishes without a trip into the glorious “range of light.”

How can I be one person and yet hear so many conflicting voices?

After a six-pack of decades on earth, my body cackles at me. I hear it at night before bed, when I wearily glance at the mirror. My body mutters about the wrinkles on my skin. There are snide statements about the extra weight around the middle I hoped to shed years ago, but the fat remains like barnacles attached to a creaky boat. I’ve had gray, thinning hair for so long, pictures of me with a curly mane of brown locks seem unfamiliar . . . a guy once known but now forgotten.

I turn the lights off; a last cackle echoes in the darkness.

Memories murmur and taunt me. The other day, though there have been myriad days like this, I spied the distant snow-capped ridges of the Sierra Nevada mountains between the neighborhood trees. For years, summer and fall after summer and fall, I hiked those mountains, shouldering a pack and gulping alpine air. But another year vanishes without a trip into the glorious “range of light.” All I have are memories. And those memories, fractured like the granite I miss, bemoan my flatlander commitments. Once you were young, the memories tease. Once your head turned toward wild dreams and not dreary obligations, the memories lament.

Have I sojourned into the wild for the last time, without a final chance to bid farewell to the high holy places I once visited? Continue reading →

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