May 30, 2021

The Voice

The Voice

I was talking with Hans, one-time professor of English Literature about words and their limitations in expressing what we feel. Looking through the Church Times at the jobs available. There one appears. I say no way, I’m retiring. And then read the reading from Isaiah for Sunday. The last king of Judah that had any power – with the future kings weakened Isaiah brings new hope with this vision of God. In colourful language he tries to describe the indescribable using words. He needed a video camera, in 3D, a hologram, the few words that come to his mind just give us a glimpse of what he sees in his vision. Like the Beetles hyped up on LSD singing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – it was indescribable, all over the place. Unlike the Beetles Isaiah’s vision was deeply holy. I read the words to Joanna and we both choked on the last ones. Here am I, send me. What power there was in this simple response to the holy. Can you describe a holy moment, an encounter with God – can one ever put it into words. Some words capture so much and have to be so long…Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch comes to mind – St Mary’s church by the white pool and near the raging red whirlpool of St Tysioio’s church. Abba, in Paul’s letter to the Romans is the Aramaic for Father. It leaves us with a feeling of God located near us, strong, caring for us, approachable – not the God of the Israelites – located in the Holy of Holies in the Temple, unapproachable. It was a revolution in one word, Abba. And then being born anothen. Anothen – from the top, from above. John uses it to describe the garment that Jesus was wearing before the crucifixion – woven from the top as one cloth. Unless you be born from above. This is not the ‘born again’ experience beloved of some Christians but being born not only physically but taking that journey which helps you touch heaven – reach the holy, the indescribable, the holy the moment you can contemplate and engage with God as Isaiah does. So to the Trinity. Trinity Sunday. God is the short word creating a multitude of meaning. Express God in a sentence and you will hear as many different sentences as people you asked. You may remember the away-day when we looked at Pilgrim’s Progress. Just an amazing set of reactions and report backs about who God is. The Trinity is a unashamed doctrine. The word does not appear in the Bible but it encompasses the basic human experience of God. God the father, Abba, creator, solid firm, full of justice. God the Son, saviour, full of love, caring for the most uncared-for, and God the Holy Spirit, a life force, a living of an abundant life even through the pain and difficulty of human existence. God with us now. That is not just my experience of God, but yours also, and a billion other Christians through the world. So we have been through Lent, Palm Sunday, passion week, arrest, trial, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and Pentecost. You know the story. Now, with clean lips – for you have been forgiven – you are born from the top, not just water but the spirit, you have re-experienced it all, it is time to use your talent and say, Lord, use me. Two words that will make a real difference in the world. Amen


Read John 3:1-17

Jesus teaches Nicodemus

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.’

Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]

‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’

Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You[c] must be born again.” The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’[d]

‘How can this be?’ Nicodemus asked.

10 ‘You are Israel’s teacher,’ said Jesus, ‘and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man.[e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.’[g]

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

> Read the full chapter