Today’s devotional comes from William Shorow. William is a senior Math-Actuarial Science and Economics double major from Edmond, Oklahoma. He also serves as president of Disciples on Campus (our Disciples of Christ campus ministry). In my role at TCU, I have the privilege of working closely with William, and I have come to know him as an exceptional listener, deep-thinking, and one who has a gift for fostering connectedness and belonging. I hope William’s devotional prompts us to consider what it means to live anew amidst our many questions. Many blessings to you all.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘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.”
There are many different forms of death. One of those is the dark, bleary end you were reminded of on Ash Wednesday, but there are also much more positive deaths you can experience throughout life. In this passage, Nicodemus is experiencing his own kind of death.
In the words of Dr. Cornel West, “You go to a university to learn how to die.” As a university student myself, I have definitely experienced death similar to Nicodemus’ situation many times. I am encouraged to question establishments and systems that I have grown up accepting as firm foundations of society. I am constantly being taught information that contradicts and attacks my own worldview. In grappling with watching my beliefs about the world crumble around me, I get to experience the miracle that death creates: birth, for without death there would be no meaning to life.
Nicodemus begins to question his own understanding, and shows us a huge window to spiritual growth in finding his own unique voice. My path to my voice is far from over, but with each question I ask, I get one step closer.
This Franciscan Blessing goes hand in hand with the death Nicodemus experiences with his own discomfort in realizing he has accepted an easy answer.
Let us pray.
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain to joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
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