Some things are hard to understand…

Genesis 12:1-4        Psalm 121       Romans 4:1-4, 13-17            John 3:1-17

Some things are really hard to understand, aren’t they?…like, I was never any good at physics. And I have no idea how to fold a fitted sheet. People cleverer than me might be able to answer my questions about those things, but it’s still hard for me to understand. And in this morning’s gospel reading, Nicodemus found things hard to understand too…

‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God because no one can do the signs you do unless they have been in the presence of God’, he says. And then Jesus says, ‘no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above’. Which doesn’t really help. And Nicodemus says, ‘you what? How can anyone be born after having grown old?!’.  It’s really hard for him to understand. And Jesus’ answer doesn’t make it much clearer… ‘no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit…you must be born from above’.

Some things are hard to understand.

But every now and then, something, or someone comes along, and they say or do something that makes things easier to understand. They give you a tip or explanation that makes sense, or at least makes it easier to remember.

By the time I was 12, I knew I would never be a physician. I liked the Bunsen burners in chemistry and I was fascinated by the human body in biology but physics and I were never going to get on. And so, in the early morning hours on the day of my physics test, I found myself crying over my revision. I just didn’t understand. I snuck into my mum’s bed and had a good worry about it. She looked at my schoolbook and began to teach me physics. Before breakfast. And I remember her tips. We were doing electronics and she said ‘when you wire a plug the bRown wire goes to the right – because it has an R in it – and the bLue wire goes to the left. Hey presto. I could do physics – enough to scrape through that test anyway. Sometimes we need a visual aid or some way of remembering.

And Nicodemus didn’t have one, not in this passage anyway (he got it in the end because he was right there at the crucifixion – but not in this passage). But for us, today, we have a very clear visual aid, a perfect way of remembering and understanding what Jesus is talking about. And that is shown to us, right here, in the tiny, perfect person of little baby Navy Rain.

You see, last July, Navy was born. She was born of the flesh – I expect Hayley can particularly vouch for that. But today, 8 months later, this little person will be born all over again (don’t worry Hayley, you don’t have to go through it again!). Today baby Navy will be born of the Spirit – she will be born from above. Nicodemus had it wrong – he thought that being born a second time must’ve meant returning to the mother’s womb – but that’s not it at all. This morning, Navy will be born for the second time, in and through the waters of baptism. She is our reminder, our lesson, our perfect visual aid of what Jesus was talking about.

And for all of us who have been baptised, we have each been born twice too – once of the flesh and then of the spirit. And, as I always say, we only baptise once because once is enough, enough for a whole lifetime – enough for a new lifetime. But because we worship a God of absolute abundance, God is always waiting to pour out more love, more life, more grace on each of God’s children. So, yes, one rebirth is enough, but also, we have the invitation and offer of rebirth in every single moment of every single day.

Every time we come together, we can be reborn, refreshed and renewed by the Spirit.

Every time we make our confession and receive God’s forgiveness we are reborn, made clean, refreshed and renewed by the Spirit.

Every time we come to this altar rail and receive the body and blood of Christ in our holy meal, we are made new, reborn, given new life, more life, from above.

Stuart and Hayley gave life to baby Navy. Hayley literally birthed her. And it doesn’t get more fleshy than that. And that was a gift. A true, amazing and wonderful gift. A gift from God, and Navy’s family and friends have brought her to church today to thank God for that gift. But God just keeps on giving gifts, because God is like that! Today’s gift for Navy is new life, through Baptism. And as it is for her, so it is for us. We are offered that gift of life – every single one of us, all are welcome, nobody is left out. And whether we were baptised a hundred years ago, or whether we haven’t made it to those waters yet, we each have the same invitation from God that Navy, in her own 8 month kind of way, is saying yes to.

And the invitation never runs out. We are always and eternally invited, in God’s act of great love, to new life and renewed hope. We are always invited to see the Kingdom of God and be the Kingdom of God and live in it and build it for those around us.

A few moments from now, we will see Baby Navy splash her way into her second birth – we will witness her new birth-day (I expect Hayley is particularly glad we weren’t all at her first one!). May this precious moment be a constant reminder to us – something that helps us understand – the holy invitation to be born of the flesh and of the spirit. And in and through it may we see the kingdom of God. Amen.

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