It started at night. I found him in the darkness.
I stole in like a thief, wanting the anonymity found under the cover of night.
Ha! Who am I fooling? I didn’t want anyone to see me. You see,
I am a man of standing in my community. I am a member of our ruling government, the Sanhedrin.
This man – he was a nobody. A rube from the provinces.
And yet, and yet, and yet.
There were rumors. He had shown signs and wonders. He told hard truths. All that he did pointed directly to God. And it was said that he could see your heart. My questions were burning a hole inside me – they burned so hard, I could not sleep.
I went to him late at night and asked him about it. I said “ Teacher, we know that you – um – it is said that you speak straight for God. God is with you, [beat] somehow. You wouldn’t be able to do all the things you do if God didn’t have His hand in it.”
I said it straight out, just like that, but it was really a question. I wanted to know -- hell, I needed to know.
He looked at me and I could feel the power of his eyes. They look right through my bravado, right through my pride and laid my heart open for all to see. He said “I am telling you up straight -- unless one is born from above, born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
What! What does that mean?
I ask him a straight out question and he answers me with riddles.
I said “How can a grown up adult man go back into his mama’s womb? Huh? You want me to try and crawl back in? Jesus that doesn’t make any sense to me!”
He slapped the table with frustration. “You aren’t listening to me! Let me say it again and listen closely -- unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Look at me, man!
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. That which belongs to this world
Is in this world. But your spirit,
"That belongs to God."
He looked me square in my eyes and came in close. I could feel his breath on my face and he said
“Do you remember when God breathed on the face of the deep? The wind hovers and skitters and no one knows from where it blows and to where.
"So it should be with you – the invisible, the Spirit is like the wind, moving you around. You can hear it moving in the trees – so must it be with you. You will be like the trees that are sculpted by the wind – you will take your shape according to the movements of the Spirit.”
I asked “How can this be?”
And he said “You are a learned man and a teacher and leader and you still don’t understand?
"Oh man, I have truly told you – I – all of us – we have told you of what we have seen with our own eyes and tell you of what we have seen and yet you do not believe us. I have told you of the things that are here on earth and you don’t believe. How are you to believe of the things in heaven? Only the Son of Man, who is from heaven knows what goes on in heaven.
"Do you remember when Moses lifted that crafty serpent on a pole to heal the people of Israel? Killed, it became vulnerable. So must the Son of Man be lifted up, to give eternal live and healing to this world.
"For God so loved this world that He gave his only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
"God did not send His Son into this world to condemn this world, but that that through him the world might be saved."
I sat for a moment, quiet. I didn’t understand. I am so old! Do I dare try to start over again?
We spoke for a few more minutes but our conversation was over.
I left him, just as I came, under the cover of darkness.
This week's monologue. I didn't put in script form here with the director's notes -- you will have to use your imagination. BBT talks in "The Preaching Life" about creative imagining of the scripture -- but I would add, only after close and careful exegesis and research. I try to look for the emotion that comes out of the narrative, not the emotion I want to add. I'm in the midst of writing one for the woman at the well, then the man blind from birth, then Lazarus, then Peter. I am doing less interpreting for the Maundy Thursday play and more interpreting for the 30 minute monologue for Mary the Mother. For some traditions, this is a scary thing. I've noticed that for some traditions, they read the Bible like it was the phonebook. Eyes cast down, adding little intonation and emotion. They feel that the can't add to the Word of God -- not even a heartfelt reading. I still feel slight conflict about this, until Teresa Fry-Brown pointed out that, if the exegesis is done, this is no more adding to the Word of God than the average sermon. So here it is. Blessings on you this week.