In the third chapter of the Gospel of John, we read the following,
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.” ’
For me, there is this part where Nicodemus says, “How can anyone be born after growing old?” We don’t often mark growing older, as in celebrating a birthday, with the idea of being “born again.” But maybe that is exactly what I mean.
Too often we can find ourselves, when the day of our birth (for many of us, 29, again and again) comes around we look back and perhaps remember the things we used to be able to do. But what would it look like to think about what we can do, now and into the future, with hope and expectation, rather than clinging to the past? To believe that God has plans for us.
This idea came to me in listening to the podcast, Everything Happens, hosted by Kate Bowler. On the last episode of 2022, she had a conversation with Kelly Corrigan, and the two of them recounted their journeys with cancer. Kate shared that she has tried to make each birthday, for her son, special. On one such occasion her son said, “is this the time of the year that I am born again?” What a great question, a great statement.
This church, this congregation of Jesus Christ, is getting ready to celebrate it’s 200th anniversary. While we look back with fond memories, we walk the hall and see the face of the Elders who have led this church, the portraits of the ministers, the names etched in granite, we are humbled to be here.
Perhaps for our own birthdays and, yes, the birthday of this church, we should discern what God has in store for us in the time ahead? I believe God is doing a new thing in your life, in my life, and in the life of this church. Let’s look ahead with joyful anticipation as we can be born anew.
Happy Birthday, everyone!!!! Let us all be born of the Spirit again and again!