Way, way back, when I was in high school I attended confirmation classes on Monday evenings. As most of my friends were rebelling and refusing to attend their church I was seeking it out (by night). Where I was on Monday evening, as far as my friends were concerned, was a mystery. I didn’t let them know, I didn’t want to face the ridicule. And on the day of my Confirmation I only told two of my friends what was happening. I guess that the rest have figured it out by now.
Perhaps it is for this reason that I like Nicodemus. He, apparently wanting to hide his interest in Jesus, went to visit him “by night.” He was fearful of ridicule or even of death. Nicodemus must have heard the other leaders plotting to have Jesus put to death. Yet, despite his fear and the potential danger of his meeting with Jesus, the pull is just too strong.
The pull of Jesus remains strong. The people who aren’t with us in Church on Sunday morning still feel a pull towards Jesus, and a deep longing for meaning and purpose. It is as if humans are hard-wired for a connection with God and a need to give life to the Divine in their own lives. Obviously, this isn’t how they say it; it’s not even how Nicodemus says it. And Nicodemus isn’t asking Jesus for a place in heaven. Nicodemus wants a sense of life with God now, in this life.
The gift we have for one another (the gift that is born of community) is the support and guidance we can offer as we feel around in the dark together seeking meaning, purpose and hope. Jesus greeted the fearful stumbling in the dark of Nicodemus with love. Can we offer one another anything less?