Rev. Andrew Cunnington
16th March 2014
Setting Out or Staying Put

I’d completely forgotten how wonderful the days can be, until I stepped out of the door on Thursday morning into the first day of spring.

Leaves upon trees long barren and bleak. Scents from flowers and blossoms poking their way amidst sudden green. A freshness in the air. The sky blue and sparkly and a quietness even about Redhill, as if everyone were watching with reverence as this new life set forth.

This could have been the experience of Nicodemus, but he chose not to embrace it. In contrast, this was the experience of Abraham as he threw his lot in with God and set out not knowing where he was going, but believing that he would be blessed.

An inkling of daylight had struck Nicodemus’s heart, but he still crept towards Jesus at nightfall, and in spite of his great learning completely failed to understand the simple truth to which Jesus was leading him.

That the first day of spring was in the offing and to make it your own, you simply had to say “Yes” to Jesus and the world would open up into a vista of sunny days.

It would be like emerging from the darkness of your Mother’s womb for a second time Nicodemus, and seeing everything transformed by the presence of God in Jesus Christ as the light of the world.

But Nicodemus is dumbfounded by such talk, or as is more likely, he was running scared because of it. He allows himself to be tied up in knots, we do not have a note of the way the conversation ended, and by the time Jesus unravels this great truth with the beautiful poetry of John 3:16, I should imagine Nicodemus has long since scampered home and drawn his curtains against the emerging day.

He does appear again in the Gospels, in the most startling of ways, on the day of the crucifixion, but that another story.

The challenge in these passages now is to ask what you do about the promise of a spring morning. Do you set out to embrace its glory or do you stay firmly in your place.

Whatever Lent finds you doing, there is no doubt that Jesus will use these forty days to call you, and present you with the choice between the way of Abraham or the way of Nicodemus.

Follow the beckoning of Jesus and come into the light because the time of hibernation is over or snuggle back down under the bed sheets, because the change and the challenge is far too much for one day.

These are challenging times for church, there is a do or die feel about the future, and our destiny is determined by whether we trust the spring or retreat into winter. Actually it’s whether we see the cross of Jesus as being the end of all things, or the empty tomb as the start of something new, and no matter where today finds us, its resolving to bring something in our prayer, that gives God the clue as to which way we are going to jump.

In this last week, before the sun has got its grip on the day, a heavy mist has hung over the town, but it soon burns away, and when it does it is God’s joy and my prayer that each of us might be found embracing the new day.

GENESIS 12: 1-4A JOHN 3:1-16