March 12, 2017, A Sermon on John 3:1-16 by Helen Harris

To listen to this sermon, click here:  Z0000012

Today’s Gospel is the greatest known in the bible and most often preached.

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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This reading was very dear to a friend of mine, Marge who passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 96. Now you probably wonder what I would have in common with a 96 year old, but believe me she was truly a fascinating woman. Marge and I met at St. John’s Church and were friends for over 45 years. She never married and only had one brother who was killed in Normandy. She was an amazing woman who shared many stories of her experiences and travels in Italy and North Africa during WWII.

I loved Marge; she was like a mother to me. She believed in this Gospel and the words which assured her of God’s love and her belief in him.

The Father sent his only beloved Son to teach us. To understand that no one will perish if they have faith and believe, they will have eternal life. He sent his son to save us, not to condemn but to save the world through him.

God’ son had to suffer and die to bear the penalty for all our sins. God’s blessings and great gift is available to everyone who believes in Christ and they will not perish. Only God can save. Whoever lives the truth comes into the light and is seen plainly and through God.

So who was Nicodemus?

The first time we hear about him is in John’s Gospel reading. He was a member of the Jewish High Court. A Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, which was the ruling body of the Jews, the body which ultimately condemned Jesus. He came to speak to Jesus at night mainly because he was afraid to be seen with him in daylight. He was a good man who seeks Jesus to ask him questions.

Nicodemus questioned Jesus.

How can anyone be born again?

In their conversation, Jesus immediately confronts Nicodemus with the truth that he must be born again. It is a crucial section of the whole bible. To experience God’s salvation, to become a new being a new creation with him. You must be born again.

To be born again spiritually and develop in the Holy Spirit the ways of righteousness so that we can live in heavenly glory. Become a new person, cleansed from sin and worthy to freely enter into the Kingdom of God.

Baptism by water and Baptism of the Spirit can be confusing sometimes.

As infants, most of us were baptized with holy water. I was baptized in Alex Bay where I was born. At the Sacrament of Baptism, we are received into the household of God. “A union with Christ in his death and resurrection, birth into God’s family, forgiveness of sins, and new life in the Holy Spirit.” BCP pg. 858

Being baptized into the body of Christ is to receive the Holy Spirit within us, through Christ, to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We receive by believing, praying and our faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit we feel a closer bond and relationship with Jesus. We love Him more deeply. Some of us are overcome by the Holy Spirit and rest in the Spirit. It is also called Slain in the Spirit.

Every Sunday before service, I go the font at the front of the church and make the sign of the cross with holy water on my forehead. It makes me feel refreshed for the day and the week ahead – it’s like a mini-renewal of our baptism.

Isaiah 11: tells us that there are seven fold gifts of the Holy Spirit:

The Gift of True Godliness, Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel,

Godly Strength, Knowledge, and the Gift of Holy Fear

The gift of the Holy Spirit from God is a wonderful expression of his love for us. It refreshes us daily with hope and love. We pray to God to fill us and empty our bad thoughts and feelings and ask Him to create and to be filled with his precious and loving spirit.

As Christians, the coming of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ is to give us new life, God’s life, eternal life. Paul says that baptism in the spirit is an act of God by which we become a part of Christ.

I think of all the special times I’ve spent with my friend Marge. As a Christian she had so many gifts of inner spirit, love and strength. Her experience as a nurse and teacher were essential to those throughout her Army career and even after in her retirement. She retired in 1970 as a Lieutenant Colonel serving in WWII, the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts.

I miss my friend Marge. I held her hand as she took her last breath. I know she was lifted into the arms of Jesus, our Lord and Savior and is in the Kingdom of Heaven. She truly had a wonderful life.

As Easter approaches in a few short weeks we will be renewing our Baptismal vows. We will reaffirm and renew our commitment to Jesus Christ. We are buried with Christ by Baptism into his death and raised with him to the newness of life. We renounce Satan and all his works and promise to serve God faithfully.

No one can see the Kingdom of God unless being born again” Born of water and the Spirit.

This Easter let Jesus into your heart.

Amen!

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