THE TRINITY OF POWER!
Read: John 3: 1-17
THE STORY OF THE EAGLE DOVE!
I want to tell you a story about the early christian missionaries who went to Africa and found something they never shared when they got home… They got something from their mission as great as what they gave.
I am sure we can identify many things taken from Africa and received with great profit in Europe and other parts of the world. Gold. Silver. Tin and copper. Rice and sugar. People for trading on the market as slaves and much more that produced profit for some at the expense of many on a continent.
As the missionaries made known the name and spread the word they made a discovery that can transform the world through the power and energy that it produces. They found a beautiful bird and local legend tells came down from heaven to bless them with all the good things they have. It was a most beautiful bird and the Africans called it the spirit of creation, so protected it as a symbol of worship.
Before coming home some missionaries caught the bird and put it in a cage where it remains to this day, on display with many stories told of the power it gave. In Africa, this bird, I call it an eagle dove, is given the freedom to fly where it chooses so the people continue to be blessed with joy in their hearts by the spirit of creation. Their faith journey is given energy.
The missionaries didn’t get to Africa before God because the Spirit of Creation was everywhere in the beginning. If God hasn’t been somewhere before us who created that somewhere? Who made the elephant, the lion and the tiger and the great wilderness in which they wander? Who made the rhino and hippo, the great Rift Valley, the mountains and lakes and everything that is so good? So who made the people of Africa and blessed them with the responsibility to care for that corner of creation and nurture it?
The Spirit of God was hovering over the darkness of their beginning, and still is, and they haven’t put the eagle dove in a cage, but have given her the freedom to fly where she chooses and to put joy, peace and love into the hearts of the people. The missionaries made the name known and spread the word, but the power of the Spirit that brought them to life was already there, listening for the Word of command: Let there be light!
Today I have found the cage and in it is a bird with folded wings so what do you think will happen if I open the door and let it out….
THE REFLECTION ON THE RELIGIOUS TRAFFIC JAM!
I woke up early this morning with a picture of a lot of cars going nowhere because they have run out of fuel. It’s either a very long wait or a long walk home for the drivers and passengers. What I was seeing was the Church of Nicodemus!
It could be a warning of what happens when the Church tries to change her source of power from petrol to electric, but is unable to provide enough charging points. We were on our way to the Kingdom of God when we ran out of fuel!
I did share my concerns recently with a neighbour about how we can produce enough energy for our cars when we go all-electric in less than ten years. His son works for an electricity power company and says it can’t be done without more radical planning. We will have plenty of nice cars, but they will be going nowhere without the power to move them.
Nicodemus is the leader of a religion as old as time with a vision to take people on a journey to the Kingdom of God, but the people need the power to move them. Nicodemus and the temple and the Church that has followed – and other faiths — are the spiritual transport that have run out of fuel. We are stuck in a great religious traffic jam going nowhere! Think again, Nicodemus: You’ve forgotten the fuel that gives us your energy.
There can be an old evangelical attitude engrained into our ministry that WE are taking Christ to a community; that WE will be the light in the darkness and neglect what we can receive from a community. We can go believing that WE are making disciples of all communities, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything we have been commanded (Matthew 28: 19-20) as if THEY have nothing to give to us.
My journey starts with hoping to find something where I go rather than giving something so that every field I walk through has the potential of revealing a treasure and every building can produce a surprise. “You are God’s field; You are God’s building,” Paul tells the Church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 3: 9) so there has to be something of God in there BEFORE I get there.
Nicodemus could represent the Church today as someone who knows the name of Jesus and, as a teacher, believes in the Word of God, but what he follows is a religion that leads nowhere because it doesn’t have the energy to go anywhere. Nicodemus, like some churches today, has the head faith from studying the scriptures in a worldly context, but it doesn’t translate into a relationship that makes the heart beat with excitement.
Many of us go to Jesus at night in our own private spaces believing that he is sent from God, or in the morning before we start the day, and we reflect on words we read from the bible as we prepare to do what needs to be done. We can start and finish our days in prayer, but the Kingdom of God is in the daily activities and found where the Spirit of Creation is active.
Many of our services have been like hymn sandwiches, but they should be prayer sandwiches with the Holy Spirit in the middle filling us with the strength; inspiring us with the words and breathing a new life into us. We’ve heard the words we need to know and believe them; we know the name we need to hear and trust him, but without the energy and strength that moves us we become a people going nowhere.
I am excited by the opportunities we face as a Nicodemus Church because we can be born again and rise from the dead as the kingdom of God is breathed into us. We can be as dead as Ezekiel’s dry bones rattling around in a valley, but the Spirit of God will put breath into us and we will come to life. (Ezekiel 37: 6) We will be born again when we receive the Spirit as a power in our lives.
At the beginning of my faith journey when I felt tired and weary I didn’t know where my energy would come from, but now I know that with hope in the Lord my strength will be renewed and I can fly on eagles wings. That’s the Spirit of God that lifts me up when I stumble and will never let me fail.(Isaiah 40: 30-31) I know the word, I know the name, but not until I am born again will my faith begin to fly!
When life was dark and chaotic I couldn’t see anything good to celebrate until I recognised the Spirit of God hovering over my life and providing a light so that I could find my way out of the darkness. I know the Name of Jesus, I know the Word of God, but I have to know the Spirit before seeing the good life! (Genesis 1)
There have been times when I haven’t known what to say or how to say it when confronted with persecution and it used to worry me until I realised that the Spirit of our Father will speak through us in all our daily activities (Matthew 10: 20) when we are born again. That Spirit speaks through us because it is the Kingdom growing within us which happens when we are born again.
In our Zoom reflection on Friday I used a poem inspired by Luke 17: 20: Don’t look through me; don’t look around me. Don’t look up or down or this way, or that way. What you seek is here. If you look within me and I into you, our eyes will see God’s kingdom is so near it is here…!
Jesus breathes that Spirit into us so that we can go and do what he was sent to do so receive that power from him to get you moving toward the Kingdom of God. (John 20: 21-23) Let your relationship be so close with Jesus that he sits with you and you can feel that breath filling you with the energy to do the will of God on earth as in heaven….
Don’t get stuck in a religious traffic jam, but fill up now with the energy and power that will carry you all the way to the Kingdom of God.
THE POEM: BLOWN ABOUT!
Like a leaf,
on a tree I grow,
holding tight to what I know.
I’ll not let go,
this branch is mine to hold;
my place to stay
until that breeze
whistles through the trees.
Like a leaf,
on the wind I go.
This way, that way, everyday;
where I’m going I don’t know.
Sometimes fast, sometimes slow.
I’ve got no control
of where I go.
Like a leaf,
on the wind I go,
snatched from what I know
to blow helpless in the wind,
to places I don’t know,
among the high and low,
until I find a resting place
with others just like me..
(Richard Becher May 2021)