Starting Over

“Jesus answered [Nicodemus], ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.'” – John 3:3

And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” – John 3:19

“You do not understand these things,”
you challenged Nicodemus, and I feel
a comfortable swell of pride because
I understand these things quite well.

As did, I’m sure, the teacher Nicodemus.

Is it so hard to understand
that you demanded people to revise their lives,
begin again, as if they were twice-born?
I understand these things quite well.

As did, I’m sure, the teacher Nicodemus.

The difficulty lies not in the metaphor –
we’ve got that cold – but in the living of
the metaphor, the struggle to begin again.
I understand these things quite well.

As did, I’m sure, the teacher Nicodemus.

Who wants to take a truly brand-new start
when there is so much stuff we have amassed,
such power, such persistent privilege?
I understand these things quite well.

As did, I’m sure, the teacher Nicodemus.

He knew, I know, the comfort of the shadows,
the safe familiarity of precedent,
the bland acceptance of persistent ills.
I understand these things quite well.

As did, I’m sure, the teacher Nicodemus.

My comfort is that you have stated that
God’s purpose is redemption and renewal.
There is always room to start anew.
I take assurance from this well of faith.

As did, I’m sure, the teacher Nicodemus.

A poem/prayer based on John 3:14-21, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year B, Fourth Sunday in Lent – with John 3:1-13 included as well for context.

The image is Jesus Christ and Nicodemus by Matthias Stom, ca. 1640-1650 – https://www.blindbild.com/darmstadt-hessisches-landesmuseum-darmstadt-gemaldegalerie-november-2014/hlmd-matthias-stom/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=88614990. I am particularly drawn to the use of the single light source in this painting.