Kenneth Hoyt asked if I would post some direct Nicodemus resources. Here is a prayer of confession, a unison prayer … and for fun a flash-fiction story.
Prayer of Confession
Gentle Teacher, we are embarrassed by seeking you.
We are confused by the language of “born again.”
We are terrified of vulnerability
and suspicious of anything windy, aimless
or out of our control.
We are not sure you really love the world
or have any reason to love us. Amen.
Assurance of Grace
God is not an explanation.
God is a wind-blower;
God is a birth-giver –
and we can be born.
Prayer for Nic at Night
God grant us the serenity
to live with questions which may never be answered.
God grant us the courage
to ask the profound and foolish ones,
the personal and global ones,
the ones that betray that we have done things
we ought not to have done,
and those which make us appear naïve.
God grant us the wisdom
to share our deepest concerns with people we trust,
to avoid people who give easy answers,
and to know the difference. Amen
A Short Story
Four seminarians were planning to preach on Nicodemus for their creative worship class. The instructor told them that they would need to come in with very innovative props to use either for the children’s sermon or for the regular adult sermon.
The first one brought in an inflatable globe and a box of Band-Aids. He quoted, “For God so loved the world that God gave the only begotten Son …” (John 3: 16a)
“This globe represents the world, and I’m going to have the congregation toss the world around and everyone who catches it come up and put a Band-Aid on it while naming something in the world that needs healing.”
“Very good,” said the instructor.
The second one looked very pleased with herself. She had a stack of paper plates with eye holes cut out of them. “I’m going to pass out these masks. Everyone in the congregation will hold up a mask while I’m preaching to emphasize the fact that Nicodemus went to see Jesus at night because he was a Pharisee and he was embarrassed to be seen seeking out the renegade prophet from Nazareth.”
The first student was in his second year at a field work placement, “They are going to get really tired holding up a paper plate through your whole sermon … unless you are an Episcopalian.”
She smiled self-confidently … “That’s just it – you become very tired holding your mask in place.”
The instructor nodded – it wasn’t just cute – her idea had a theological point.
The third student started his set up with a power strip, that is a surge suppressor, and it took the rest of the group a while watching to understand what he was doing. He put many different colors of blue fabric on the communion table and on top of that a Nature Bowl 101 Tabletop Fountain ($298.00). Then he ran extension cords to the four corners of the room and set up four Vornado 510 Table Fans ($60.00 each). He turned everything on and the lights off and read from the NRSV …
“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of heaven without being born of water … and the Spirit …What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of Spirit is Spirit. Don’t be astonished that I say you must be born from above. The wind blows where it chooses and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8 selected words)
There was a long pause. Nobody knew quite what to say but it was getting a little chilly.
The instructor turned to the fourth student. “Well, what can you add to this rich diversity of liturgical imagery?”
She walked around the classroom and handed everyone who was there a Depends. Then she sat down.