Friday, March 3, 2017

The Second Sunday in Lent (A), March 12, 2017 - Psalm 121 and John 3:1-17

Nicodemus Visiting Jesus
Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1899
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia

Psalm 121

The Funeral

How many know these words by heart,
With memory of open graves,
And lives, so rudely torn apart,
All looking for some word to save.

Not make it better, or remove
The grief and tears by something said,
Nor some far afterlife to prove
By news of rising from the dead;

But a connection make to those
Who also looked for help above,
And finding mountains lacking, chose
To trust that all was made in love.

For only love can heal the heart,
Can keep you well, can be your shade,
Can keep you, e'en when you depart -
Is even why you dared to pray.

Scott L. Barton

I lift up my eyes to the hills-- 
  from where will my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, 
  who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; 
  he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel 
  will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper; 
  the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, 
  nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil; 
  he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep 
  your going out and your coming in 
  from this time on and forevermore.

 +  +  +

John 3:1-17 (see also John 7:45-53 and John 19:38-42)


Nicodemus knew
That Jesus was on to something
With all that talk
About being born from above,
Even though he hadn't a clue
Of the wind's comings and goings.
Thus he went to that meeting
Where the blowhards
Wanted to do Jesus in,
And tried to talk some sense into them.
I wonder where he got such courage,
Going again by night,
The weight of the world on his back,
Or at least a hundred pounds,
To bury his rabbi,
Winded by the law of love?

Scott L. Barton

 John 3:1-17 (with a reference also to Numbers 21:9)


It's not just at a football game
Where you will see the sign
That God so loved the world, God gave
God's son; for now "divine"
Means whatsoe'er is given from
The bottom of the heart;
And when that comes, like wind, unplanned,
You'll find your life can start
Again! You're born as if anew,
Since you've looked up to see
The love which from all poison now
Has set the whole world free.

Scott L. Barton

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."

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