and Nicodemus might as well be speaking different languages. Jesus speaks of
birth from above; Nicodemus is befuddled. Jesus speaks of the spirit as wind
blowing where it will; Nicodemus wonders how this can be. They are like a
creationist and a paleontologist comparing notes on fossils--they simply can't
fathom each other. Their organizing assumptions are too different.
when we sense that Nicodemus begins to understand what Jesus is saying: when
Jesus reinterprets the story of Israel in the wilderness, drawing from the
language that has oriented Nicodemus's life and thought. It doesn't seem
likely, after all, that the series of puzzling metaphors Jesus begins with
would push Nicodemus to understanding. But something clearly does.
During college I was a member of the Flying Couch Potatoes, jugglers extraordinaire and comedy novices. I remember those performances fondly. We were more enthusiastic than skilled, but enthusiasm will carry you far. Who doesn't love a competition among friends juggling five eggs, in which the winner celebrates by smashing the eggs on his head?
has a way with a sneer. Nineteen times in 1 Corinthians 1, Paul mentions
wisdom, and each time we hear a growing sneer in his voice, until he nominates
Christ as the wisdom of God. The word "wisdom" is distasteful to him because it
is wooing the Corinthians to pursue a dead wisdom when they might turn to a
wisdom he calls the "source of life"--and come alive.
Paul writes that Christ is the wisdom of God, he's tapping into an ancient way
of speaking about God. He's drilling down into proverbs, where wisdom plays the
part of the creative spirit of God. Wisdom is begotten of God, the firstborn of
all creation, the very spirit alive in Creation, a feminine expression of God.
This isn't just some hocus pocus
stuff from the Old Testament, either. The New Testament writers are so
influenced by this thinking that they pay homage to Lady Wisdom everywhere.
A year before my ordination I shadowed a seasoned pastor as he visited some of the saints of our church at a care facility in Austell, Georgia. We went from door to door and sat and listened and prayed.
"We have one more to see," said my companion as he stepped into the elevator. "Miss Fraser. She's normally unresponsive, but we'll check on her."
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