Griffith Lutheran Church
1000 North Broad Street | Griffith, IN, 46319 | 219-838-1626

Growing Christ-centered relationships in our communities through love and service.

If you are new to the Northwest Indiana area, or if you are looking for a new place to worship, we invite you to make Griffith Lutheran Church your new church home.

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A Few Words from Pastor Scales...

May 31st, 2015

Isiah 6: 1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8: 12-17; John 3: 1-17

There was an article in the latest Christian Century journal that I want to share with you.  I would suspect in some ways you can identify with the author thinking about some point in your life.  Many of us can point to a time when something similar happened to us.

The author of the article, which is a commentary on our gospel, is Ron Adams, is pastor of Madison Mennonite Church in Madison, WI.  He begins the article by talking about Nicodemus, the Pharisee that was drawn to Jesus.  We read in our gospel today that Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night, obviously avoiding being seen by his fellow Pharisees who had been terribly critical of Jesus and some of his strongest opponents.  Adams asks, “What draws Nicodemus to Jesus this night?”  Then he asks, “What draws any of us to Jesus?”

Then Ron Adams tells the following story. In his teenage years, unfortunately, his family was pretty well falling apart.  His parents’ marriage was collapsing and his siblings and he were caught us in their own efforts to survive that collapse.

A side effect of his parents’ drama, he said, was that he’d become pretty much disenchanted with Christianity. As far as he was concerned, being a Christian had proven itself useless, especially in restoring his family.

During his junior year in high school, a gospel rock group came to the nearby Mennonite campground.  So when his father proposed that they go “as a family” to hear the gospel rock group, he thought it a farce and wanted nothing to do with it.  But he said he submitted to father’s wishes and went.

Adams said they managed to get seats near the front of the pavilion, almost under the nose of the gospel rock stars.  He sat there, arms folded, grit his teeth and determined to ride the concert out, untouched.  His parents could make him be there, he thought, but he did not have to like it.  He said that he built a wall around his heart that nothing could penetrate.

Yet, he said, as the music played, he met Jesus. He didn’t want to. He didn’t believe he needed to.  He came with no other agenda than making it through the night.  He came with no curiosity. He had no expectations.  Adams said, it never occurred to him that someone might be there waiting for him.

In the words of Ron Adams, “I met Jesus that night and he touched me. Jesus unfolded my crossed arms and held me to himself. Jesus walked right through the barrier around my heart.  I can still feel it --that moment when I realized what was happening.  I started to cry” he said.  ‘I couldn’t help myself, so Jesus came and helped me.”

Ron Adams says that in the years since, his faith has changed.  It has waxed and waned, like all of ours. But the love and touch of Jesus that came over him that evening remains.  He says to this day, that the love and mercy of Jesus he perceptibly felt changed everything.

The last words we hear from Nicodemus in this gospel lesson of today is his saying to Jesus, “How can these things be?”  He had come to Jesus saying that obviously he must be from God, since he is performing all these miracles.

It seems like Nicodemus had come to talk with Jesus, scholar to scholar, theologian to theologian.  Then Jesus starts talking about being born again, of the spirit, not of flesh.  This threw Nicodemus completely off and we hear from him “How can these things be?”  Then Jesus talks even more about earthly things, heavenly things, being lifted up as the serpent was with the Israelites.

We hear nothing more from Nicodemus.  I think he left Jesus with s head spinning -- but yet having been touched his merciful grace. Something happened.

Because later in the gospel of John’s crucifixion account, you might remember Joseph of Arimathea got permission from Pilate to take the body of Jesus down from the cross and place it in his family’s tomb.  As he was doing this, he was joined by -- Nicodemus who brought spices and oil to anoint the body of Jesus once in the tomb.

Whatever drew Nicodemus to Jesus, more than likely an intellectual, theological curiosity, he left the meeting changed. More than likely, it was not the words of Jesus that changed Nicodemus, but it was the presence of the grace and mercy of Jesus.

What do we hear as the greeting of every one of our worship services? “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit….”  What we do not hear, “The words of Jesus, the word of God, and the words of the Holy Spirit….” 

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