A Reading from the Book of Genesis (12:1-4a)
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.
> Beginning of Israel’s history.
> Chapter 1-12 is the “pre-history.”
> The story starts with Sara being barren — emptiness.
> Being blessed for the entire world – not just Israel.
> Ultimate expression of faith – the Lord said “go” and Abram went!
(Sung to the tune ‘St. Flavian’)
1 I to the hills lift up my eyes;
From where shall help be given?
My help comes only from the LORD
Who made the earth and heaven.
2 He will not let your foot be moved;
Guard over you he keeps:
He watches over Israel
And slumbers not, nor sleeps.
3 Strong is the LORD; your shield and shade;
Safe are you in his sight;
Sun shall not hurt your life by day
Nor shall the moon by night.
4 So shall the LORD keep you from harm;
He will keep safe and sure
Your going out, your coming in
From now, for evermore.
Words: Christopher Idle. CCLI License 2036454.
> Second of the Song of Assents – journey to Jerusalem and the journey of life.
> Question and response in the first person in verse one.
> Verse two is in the second person – instruction.
> The word “keep” occurs six times in the actual Psalm.
> The trust in God is reflected in the Abram reading.
A Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans (4:1-5, 13-17)
What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
> Tries to parallel Abraham.
> Abraham’s belief in God happened before he was circumcised.
> Abraham’s faith did not come from circumcision practices.
> Inherit faith through the fathers.
> Paul has a round-about way of making a point.
The Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to John (3:1-17)
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “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 answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “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 said 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 said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “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. 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. 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.”
> The reference to Jews could be all Jews, or most likely, the Jewish leadership.
> John is big on symbolism – Nicodemus is totally in the dark.
> There are different levels of meaning in John.
> The disciples are clueless, the readers understand more, and Jesus is fully away of everything.
> The “Kingdom of God” refers to the eternal life of now.
> The rise of the “born again” Christians – a mis-interpretation by the King James Bible.
> Born again of water and spirit.
> Flesh refers to being simple and earthly.
> Wind, spirit, and the flesh are all the same word in Hebrew.
> Nicodemus is even more confused at the end.
> Jesus has not yet descended.
> Format: Statement — Misunderstanding — Clarification.
> Nicodemus serves as the “straight man.”
> Nicodemus goes back into darkness and Jesus is in the spotlight at the end.
> He will come back twice later in the Gospel readings.