Melissa contrasted last Sunday’s Gospel of John passage with this week’s from John 4:1-42. Last week Nicodemus came and left in the cover of darkness. It takes him time to process his experiences with Jesus. The Samaritan woman at the well encounters Jesus and soon after boldly proclaims to the people around her, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” We’re shown not a right and wrong way to encounter Jesus, but two human lives, two stories. We’re shown that being in this life of being drawn near to God looks like many things, and that we too will be, and need, many stories like these.
Today’s message came out of John 3:1-21. Nicodemus wasn’t quite ready to trust Jesus yet, approaching him at night. He asks what he must do to enter the kingdom. Jesus’ initial responses are rather nebulous. Then we hear what is maybe the best known verse in the Bible. Melissa helps unpack it all.
In John’s gospel, we see bringing about the kingdom happens here and now, not in some eternal future.
In the Bible, belief is not a matter of checking off a box in your mind. Belief in God is a matter of trust.
Melissa brought the sermon today, based on John 2:13-25. Jesus coming onto the scene means a radical departure from every common expectation about worship and economics and the places where they meet. We’re reminded by this passage in John, as well as by many of the old testament prophets like Zechariah and Nehemiah, that we have a long history of getting comfortable with bad practices as worshipers of God.
This Sunday was Worldwide Communion Sunday. Our Anabaptist sister churches worldwide have offered us astounding examples of radical welcome that shake us outside the boundaries of respectability and law abiding. They remind us of a stark alternative to the rampant nationalist and xenophobic ideologies that have gripped so many here in the U.S. These churches have shown us what it means to follow after the one who flips over tables. They show us that following Jesus will not allow us to fly under the radar, to stay respectable, to play along by the rules any more.
Hans brought the message from John 2:1-11, the story of Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana. Jesus performed this miracle and “revealed his glory” to the disciples and the others at the party who heard about what he had done. Kind of a strange first act to show the glory of God.
“Glory” is the humanly-accessible way that God’s awesomeness, God’s light, God’s joy is revealed. These “random acts” are what make up the Gospels, showing ordinary life being lived, but with Jesus.
We are called to invite Jesus to be our guest, to go where God leads us, and to show God’s glory.
We had the privilege of having Kyle Kentopp provide the sermon this Sunday. Kyle is a Master of Divinity candidate at Yale Divinity School where he is training to become a minister in the United Church of Christ. Kyle understands his experience as a transgender individual as being inseparably intertwined with his faith journey as a Christian and focuses his academic and ministerial work on transgender rights and education.
Kyle’s message was based on John 1:35-51, the calling of Jesus’ first disciples. Christ saw them, recognized them, and made space for who they were and the gifts that each of them brought to his ministry. Jesus didn’t expect them to be a perfect carbon copy of himself. They were transformed, so that their inherently placed gifts and talents could be used for the participation in the movement of God on earth. Simon being renamed to Peter captures that transformation best.