Jesus answered Nicodemus, “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?”
It may be because I have three boys or because growing up I watched the movie E.T. over and over again but when I read this passage from Jesus’ interaction with the Jewish leader, Nicodemus my first thought is always extraterrestrials. I know it’s a little weird but stick with me for a minute.
The word extraterrestrial comes from the two latin words: extra, which means ‘beyond’ or ‘not of’ and terrestris which means ‘of’ or ‘belonging to earth’. So Nicodemus comes to Jesus with all kinds of questions about his relationship to God, where he comes from and how he seems to know so much about God and Jesus says, “yeah, I’m not from around here” and even better he tells Nicodemus he’s not from around here either.
Jesus invites Nicodemus to reorient himself towards God, towards the mystery of the Spirit, towards a part of him that doesn’t belong to this world but comes from God.
The sixteenth century Kabbalistic rabbi Isaac Luria tells a beautiful and mystical story about the light of God at the beginning of the world. In his story the world begins with the Or Ein Sof or “God’s infinite light” but then the vessel that holds the light breaks open and the light of God is scattered throughout the universe into an infinite number of holy sparks. According to Rabbi Luria these sparks are hidden deep in everyone and everything. One of my favorite authors, Rachel Naomi Remen who is also jewish says, “there is God spark in evryone and everything, a sort of diaspora of goodness.”
I imagine Jesus trying to get Nicodemus to think outside the box, to imagine that there is a spark, a piece, even the most essential part of himself that does not belong to the earth, but that is “born from above.” Jesus invites Nicodemus to claim a life that’s bigger and more brilliant, that’s lit from within by the abiding presence of God. The words ‘born again’ have begun to carry the notion that this reorientation to God is a one-time experience, but it’s not. It’s an ongoing turning and re-turning to God. Jesus’ invitation to Nicodemus, and to us, is an open invitation to be born or grounded in the knowledge that we belong to more than we can see, touch, taste or even fully understand.
May you be born and born again,
To the knowledge that you belong to God,
That in belonging to God you belong to more than this world,
And may your knowledge of God in and with you bring you peace,
And may you see the spark of God in everyone and everything.