First Sunday after Pentecost

& archive.

Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
And to bear the cost
Of giving up our false self.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice
Help me to follow you in all of life,
To walk in the joy and freedom of the resurrection,
Indwelt and led by your Pentecost Spirit.
Amen

First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday

If we have some discomfort with Pentecost and its insistence that we take the Holy Spirit seriously, we are not alone. This week our lectionary guide leads us back into Jerusalem, to a house where Jesus was staying. It is night, and a quiet knock at the door alerts Jesus to the presence of a night visitor: Nicodemus. A Pharisee, and a leader among the Jews, he would practice strict observance of the Mosaic Law and its traditions formed over a long period of time by the Jewish elders. His theological understandings would therefore be separatist, seeking to keep himself from being unclean, and thereby righteous in the sight of God; always in hope of seeing the kingdom restored to Israel.

John’s gospel offers us the gift of several extended verbatim (records of conversations). We are invited to listen in as John shares this verbatim of the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus with us.

Nicodemus Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come
from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the
presence of God.

Jesus Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of
God without being born from above.

Nicodemus How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter
a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?

Jesus Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without
being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh,
and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Do not be astonished that I say to you, ‘You must be born from
above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound
of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.
So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Nicodemus How can these things be?

Jesus Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these
things? Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify
to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony.
If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe,
how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from
heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent
in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that
whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

As we reflect on this night exchange, we discover that Nicodemus is attracted to Jesus because he sees the miracles, and unlike a number of other religious leaders, perceives that Jesus is sent from and empowered by God. Jesus is also perceptive! He discerns that while Nicodemus is aware of God’s presence and work in and through him, he is blocked from seeing and understanding certain spiritual realities. With rabbinical imagination Jesus begins to lead Nicodemus into this greater spiritual dimension by speaking about being born again. At first this religious leader can only think within the physical, concrete dimension, and thus asks, how that can be. How can a person re-enter his or her mother’s womb and be re-born?

Jesus replies by drawing Nicodemus’ attention to another kind of birthing: being born of the Spirit. This is birthing that is beyond our human rational capacity to understand and control. The Spirit, like the wind, moves as the Spirit chooses, unseen but felt.

Even as Jesus engages in conversation with Nicodemus, offering him spiritual direction, Jesus is aware that his own words are prompted by the Spirit of God. (John 8:28; 12:49; 16:13,14).

It is only later that we encounter Nicodemus once more – bearing a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes – as he, along with Joseph of Arimathea, ask Pilate for permission to take the body of Jesus from the cross for burial. It seems that this Pharisee had thought long about the night conversation, and had become a disciple. The Holy Spirit had been at work in his life and thinking.

In this season following Pentecost, we are also called to welcome the coming of God among us in the presence of the Spirit. In this welcoming we will become aware of how the Holy Spirit offers us guidance and help, companions and teaches us, reveals God to us. As Jesus told his followers, he would not leave them orphans (John 14:18), but would come to them – and us – in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

We are not in this journey of following Jesus alone – but are indwelt and companioned by the Spirit of God/Jesus. The Trinity–Abba God, Jesus, and the Spirit—is present and at work within us, around us, and beyond us in the world.

Prayer before reading:

Lord Jesus Christ,
You come to us
In the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit,
Help me to be aware of how you come,
To be hospitable to your help,
And to your leading in the way of Jesus.
Amen

First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday

  • 5/28 Monday: John 3:1-8
  • 5/29 Tuesday: John 3:9-17
  • 5/30 Wednesday: Psalm 29
  •  5/31 Thursday: Isaiah 6:1-8
  • 6/1 Friday: Romans 8:12-17
  • 6/2 Saturday: John 3:1-8
  • 6/3 Trinity Sunday: John 3:9-17