This is the story of Nicodemus…an establishment figure who dared to visit a man proclaiming love…the one called Jesus.
Nicodemus was an establishment figure… a man of enormous prominence in both civil and religious society and governance. Think of it as being both a Roman Catholic Bishop and deputy mayor in the City of New York. Jesus was a religious radical that the establishment despised. The visit of Nicodemus and Jesus happened because Nicodemus dared to move past the boundaries of his identity. He dared to love and seek in forbidden ways. This visit would have never happened if Nicodemus had played by rules. This beautiful encounter transpired because Nicodemus was willing to step outside of his closet.
Nicodemus traveled by night. How many of you are used to traveling in the night looking for both love and answers? Quietly Nicodemus stepped toward something or someone that was named profane by all of those around him, the one called Jesus. The night can be a place of tremendous beauty and sometimes in the darkness we find answers. Sometimes it is only when we are there in the darkness and courageous enough to believe in the absence of God that we start to believe in the existence of God. Sometimes it is only when we are there in the darkness and courageous enough to believe in the absence of love that we begin to believe in existence of love. The night…the mystery…can hold many answers if we are willing to follow Nicodemus and step out into it.
Nicodemus told Jesus, “We know that you are from God but…” How often do we look at humans in this world and say “I know that you were made in the image of God but…”? I want to love my enemies but. We want to become open and celebrating of queer folk but. We want to provide for the hurting but. I want to quit hating people but. People have many buts when it comes to love. Like Nicodemus, people are often interested in affirming part of the message of God or love, just not the whole thing. Can The Church at Mable Peabody’s be a church free of buts? Can we strive to be a place where there are no boundaries of but to love? Remove the boundaries! Tear down your walls! Love somebody!
Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be reborn. Nicodemus needed big change. There is a need for rebirth in our lives as well. We must be reborn past the identities, labels, and boundaries that keep us from loving others and ourselves. We must be reborn into a space where we acknowledge ourselves as made uniquely queer in the image of God. Queer is the path to love as God loves…when we traverse it we are able to transcend the boundaries of normativity and live past hate to a place called love…where enemies becomes friends and love restores both our souls and our planet.
The Water and The Spirit
Jesus speaks of being born of both the water and the spirit. Nicodemus needed to be washed of all the rules and dogmas that kept him from knowing a God that actually loved him. Nicodemus was a victim of tremendous spiritual violence.
Many of you have been victims of violence and carry a tremendous amount of hate and anger in your hearts. What does it mean to be free?
The message of the water is the cleansing of all the burdens and hates we carry. You don’t have to hurt or be angry anymore… Love is here to restore you. This is the message of Jesus.
The Spirit is a magical thing. It shows us how to love when we thought love was impossible. It whispers message of love, hope, and justice to encourage us to keep going. Unfortunately, many of you don’t believe in such superstitious things.
Nothing is real unless you can prove it. If God plopped down in the middle of the room, you would look at her, it, or him and say, “My mind has no ability to explain you and therefore you are not real.” When something mysterious knocks at your door, that might even be love or God, you slam the door and say, “No solicitations asshole.”
In order to experience the enlightenment of rebirth, one must live past the provable and open their heart to mystery. God is there.
If the writer of 1 John 4:8 is correct and “God is love” then the scripture begins to look different. John 3:16 is probably the most famous passage of scripture in the history of Christianity. Imagine if it read, “For love so loved the world that love gave love’s only begotten love that whosoever believes in love should not perish but have everlasting love.” Or maybe it does and we aren’t paying attention. When we begin to engage the message of Jesus as love, things begin to look different. Justice is a step toward wholeness for both the oppressor and oppressed. This broken world is in the process of being restored. Enemies begin to look like the path to the salvation of forgiveness and restoration. God becomes…more than our perception of the asshole or taskmaster in the sky telling us what to do…but on the inverse…love.
Are we willing to be the light of love? Are we willing to come out of our closets and boundaries to be the light of love the world so desperately needs? Love is knocking…