As we have all watched the devastating earthquake in Japan with shock and horror this week, we are reminded of an important truth. Nothing is as firm and stable as we would like it to be. In our modern world we tend to think of the earth’s rocks as being a solid foundation into which we can root our modern skyscrapers. We forget that in God’s earth, even the rocks need to bend and shift sometimes.
Change. We don’t like it. The natural human tendency is to find a pattern that works and then hunker down in it, draw a line around it, protect it, and fight with anyone who challenges it.
In our lesson this week we are reminded that God is the God of change. God calls us to move. In Genesis 12:1-4, God said to Abram, “leave your country and go to the land that I will show you.” God asked Abram to leave behind the safety and power of the Chaldean empire, live in a tent, and follow an unknown God to an unknown place, and follow a strange new pattern of life. God actually expected Abram’s family to be a family that blessed others rather than conquer them.
In the gospel lesson, John 3:1-17, we eavesdrop on a similar conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus, a powerful leader of the Jewish people. Nicodemus had it all — knowlege, power, and wealth. Jesus told him that unless he was willing to completely change his perspective, to be born from above, he would not recognize the ways of God in the world. Jesus called Nicodemus to move away from his safe place, take a chance, and risk looking at things in a new perspective; to follow the Spirit that moves like the wind. He asked Nicodemus to realize that God does not desire to condemn the world, as many Jews thought, but that God wants to save the world, to bless the nations, as he called Abram to do.
During these weeks of Lent we say we are on a journey. Are we? Are we using this time of fasting and prayer to authentically allow God to strip away the familiar and show us new things — to show us how we can be a blessing to others — or are we simply going through the religious motions?
Change. Movement. It’s scary, but it is the way of God. Are you ready to let God shake you up this year?