When I was in middle school, my eldest brother was sent on active duty to Saudi Arabia. I remember sending letters, and receiving broken up phone calls while he was a way. He said it was so hot that no work could be done during the day and so to pass the time they captured and fought scorpions. But outside of the pranks and the games they played on one another, what he did was dangerous. He drove between bases in an armored vehicle transporting bombs. If he broke down he could easily have been shot by a population that resented his presence.
This was my first true understanding of just how violent and dangerous our world could be. I worried about my brother and his welfare. I was baffled by hate that did not take into account the goodness of a person before being exhibited. I wondered, then, as I do now, whether humanity would ever truly experience a peace that would free our young men and women from having to go into harm’s way to protect the well being of others.
We live in a world that is broken to say the least, a world that is in desperate need of healing and wholeness that can only truly come from the hands of God. One day, I hope to see a world that is less violent and less torn apart by war but united together in common respect and love. I hope to someday experience a society that doesn’t have school and public shootings, a world that is healed by the love of Christ.
Christ in contrast to Nicodemus in this morning’s scriptures boldly lived into the love of God. He offered healing to those who were in need. He offered teachings and new beginnings about the true will of God in the world. He stood up to worldly violence and proclaimed spiritual renewal in the love of God. Nicodemus was an elite individual, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. He was a highly educated man. He read and debated the scriptures. He would be amongst the violent and hate filled discussions around the ministry of Jesus. In this passage, we see that he was very unsure of Jesus and the message he preached. He was uncommitted to Jesus’ peaceful call for love. This is why he came under cover of night.
We live in a violent world. We hear in the Psalms how God is in the present. He is in the acts of nature and he is in those distressing times of conflict and pain. But God can also teach us to love more fully and to work towards peaceful times. War and conflict are not God’s vision for the world. Thomas Merton, a 20th century theologian, wrote “For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be”. We’ve heard what God wants from us today. He wants us to be born anew in the spirit. He wants us to focus on him and his call in our lives and in our world. He wants us to work towards living in peace with our neighbors. He wants an end to the killing, the violence, and the loss of life.
We are called to look towards God, to commit ourselves to the teachings of Jesus in a way that Nicodemus couldn’t at first. We are called to commit ourselves to loving our neighbors and in so doing we will be doing our part to end the violence in the world. One day, I hope we will not be remembering any more fallen soldiers and our soldiers will no longer lose so much to protect the ways of our people. Until then let us remember to pray for all those in active service and to pray for God’s peaceful hand to be upon all peoples everywhere. Let us act with love and kindness and work to spread the peace of God this is upon our hearts. And “May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!”
 Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island. 20th century.
 Psalm 29: 11, NRSV.
(based on Psalm 29 and John 3: 1-17)