Lent II: Born of the Spirit
Our coming is another matter all together. We are born basically the same way. Anyone who has birthed, been a witness to a live birth or has even seen a birth on TV from the comfort of our own dwelling has seen we are flesh. Quite fleshy, gooey, bloody, watery. Our entrance into this level of life is fairly graphic and, unlike the wind, over time we learn where we have come from and where we are going.
At baptism, those present celebrate the inclusion of yet another person into our family - all of the children of God. The Spirit descends on us as well and our bodies become equipped to deal with matters of the Spirit. After adults have been baptized, they speak of feeling different - of an experience that defies retelling but is quite real to them. Our other sacramental church rituals give us that window of opportunity to feel that fresh air come through: the Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Ordination, Reconciliation and Unction. Some happen only once, some happen as often as you are prepared to enter into them.
I remember both my First Communion and Confirmation when I was seven years and thirteen years old (respectively) and a Roman Catholic. Each was an extraordinary event which warmed me all over. When the Spirit is called upon for the power to transform, we become transformed. I felt the Spirit when I was received as an Episcopalian at age 20. Before entering the convent I made a life confession (and that took pages to write and ponder upon) and felt the relief of a lifetime in the powerful pardon I received. During my ordination I felt the Spirits presence (as well as the hefty manual grip of the suffragan bishop) on my head and in my being.
Perhaps you too have experienced and cherished these or other moments when something within the born flesh is transformed by the Spirit. We have sacraments as spiritual chargers, transforming us not only in that act, that moment but for all time. When we become born of the Spirit, the Spirit bears much for our sake in our lives.
And when, at the last, we receive the last Sacramental rite the Spirit takes us over completely and inevitably into the heart of God, to be born yet again into a life that we cannot on this side of eternity completely comprehend but try in our own feeble way to approximate in Inadequate words in prose and poetry.
We are born of the flesh but once; we are born, renewed, strengthened, restored, upheld, supported, transformed again and again in the Spirit. May we welcome this spiritual regeneration with open minds, arms, hands and hearts. Amen.