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Contagious Spirit (John 3:1-21)



Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. - Genesis 2:7

I remember the day my daughter was born.  They were moments from doing a cesarean section but her mother had dilated just enough so that when they came in to roll her away they decided she could have a natural birth instead.  After a long and scary process I watched as the doctor held my daughter, her breathless form before us.  I was terrified.  The nurse was cleaning her off and I watched, forgetting to breath myself.  Then, all of a sudden a cry came, the breath had come into her lungs from nowhere, and I felt myself gasp as my own breath returned.

Our reading this week is from John 3:1-21.  Jesus has a fascinating late night conversation with one of the Jewish leaders.  He tells Nicodemus that a person must be born again, born of Spirit, before they may enter the Kingdom of God.  Nicodemus was confused..."how can a person be born again?  Are we to crawl back in?", but Jesus was talking about a different kind of reality.  Jesus explained that: "like the wind is not seen but has a great force, so is the reality of the Spirit".  

To grapple with this text, you first need to know that the word for "Spirit" means "breath".  When God breathed life into Adam, he was "born" of the Spirit, a living being.  Later in our story Jesus will breathe into the disciples and they will come alive in a new way too.

Are you born again?  Are you born of Spirit?  Have you breathed in the breath of Christ?

In the world of the COVID pandemic we are cautious with what we breathe in.  We are worried that we might catch something.  We know the power of a contagion to change us.  But what if that contagion is Life instead of death?  Think of the people that you know who are full of the Spirit, full of life, love, and joy!  Is it not infectious just being around them?  It's not something you can see in a microscope like a virus.  It is more like the wind, invisible but powerful.  It is not something that you have to take your mask off to catch, simply being in community and communion with someone who has it will expose you.  I bet you know a few people who are clearly infected with the Spirit of Christ, whoever they are, get closer to them.  Watch them.  Do what they do.  Then, when you have caught it, when you are full of life and light, don't hold it in, but spread it to others and watch breathlessly as you wait for the Spirit to cry out, the joy of new life!

God, help us to spread the Spirit of Christ to those around us.  Help us to embody and live out the fruits of love, peace, and joy.  Help us to spread those values in a world that is clearly trying to spread something different.  Give us the strength to go against the current when we need to.  Draw people to us that will help us by being strong when we are weak, and let us not forget to hold them up when we are strong and they are weak.  

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