April 20: Monday of the Second Week of Easter
Posted by Campus Ministry on Monday, April 20, 2020 at 6:00 AM PDT
Sometimes it’s hard to keep the faith in times such as these, as we bear witness to all that is happening around us. Sometimes it’s hard to believe in God when it feels like COVID keeps winning. Stuck at home yet again, another zoom call, another class lecture interrupted by janky wifi, another bowl of frosted flakes, another bored child or sibling wanting us to entertain and keep their attention, another paper or email I have to write when I can’t seem to focus. And worse yet, another job lost, another life lost, and health professionals and essential employees risking their lives. Real people, real families, not just news reports. Another, another, another. And yet, in the midst of all this uncertainty and for many of us, our very ordinary and monotonous existence, there are signs of God’s activity and presence in the world and there is hope. What I am suggesting, then, is that it is possible for us as people of God to hold the tension of belief and unbelief, of sorrow and joy, of despair and hopefulness. Like the father who asks Jesus to heal his demon-possessed child in Mark chapter 9, we cry out to Jesus, Lord, we believe, help our unbelief!
Maybe some of us are like Nicodemus who we learn about in today’s reading, in the third chapter of John’s Gospel. Nicodemus who recognizes that Jesus comes from God and is with God because he has performed so many signs and wonders, this Nicodemus who still has many doubts. Many of us have approached this idea of God with a certain level of skepticism and our belief and faith waxes and wanes as life has had its way with us, as we deal with the profundities of life. Sometimes it seems like God is active and present, as Nicodemus seems to offer us, but other times it feels like we are all alone. It doesn’t make sense. What does it mean to be born again? How can I be born twice? No no, what does it really mean? What difference does being born again make in my life and the lives of those who believe?
Some of us approach God in our dark nights of the soul because we want to believe and perhaps like Nicodemus the Pharisee, with all our learning and education, we question the Lord and we doubt. Or perhaps under the cloak of darkness, we admit there may be something to this Jesus, something that feels right, that stirs our spirit to belief and action, but we are too ashamed to share with our friendship groups, our family, and our classmates that there is something real here. Certainly, this Jesus must come from God. We know Jesus is God, in fact, but we are too ashamed to say we are Christians. Some of us don’t want to use that phrase “born again” with all its negative connotations of fundamentalism and right-wing beliefs, of keeping gay folks in the closet and women chained to the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. We don’t want to be associated with those types of born-again believers.
But to be born again means we set aside preconceived notions of who gets in the Kingdom and who doesn’t. Being born again means we set-aside human labels that we ascribe to others who we don’t like, or who we blame, or who we don’t want to help. Being born again is a spiritual rebirth that is not subject to any human sense of time or place and to me that is good news because it means at any moment, we can accept God’s invitation. It means that no matter how many times we mess up or how often we have doubts about where God is in the midst of all this chaos, we can also have hope. We always have a fresh start, we are always renewed, and our faith will always be deepened if we trust in God. Being born again in the spirit doesn’t seem to make sense, but neither does God’s unending, far-reaching, and deep love for us. And so on today I pray that through our spiritual rebirth God’s grace and transformative love would spread throughout this world through our actions, thoughts, and deeds.