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?
Each year when Trinity Sunday rolls around, ushering us into the
season of the year known as Ordinary Time, my memory travels back to a
Trinity Sunday many years ago. It was my last Sunday living in Atlanta,
where I had gone to seminary and was now finishing a bonus year spent
working on my first book and lingering with the seminary community.
My parents' marriage began with
a betrayal. My maternal grandfather was in the army, so my mom's family moved
around a lot. She was shy and introverted, and she struggled to make friends
and establish roots. As an adult, all she wanted was a single place to call