Sermon - March 5, 2023 - St. Martin's In the Desert

Sermon – March 5, 2023

Second Sunday in Lent
Year A
March 5, 2023

First Reading: Genesis 12:1-4a
Psalm: 121
Second Reading: Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
Gospel: John 3:1-17


O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth to your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Living by Hope and Faith

Genesis (12:1-4a)

Abram, leaves his homeland where his ancestors had been for years, he follows God’s commandment, to leave, He, God, will show him. 

God will bless Abram and everyone who blesses or follows Abram, will also so be blessed, until everyone in this new nation, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 

Romans (4:1-5, 13-17)

In Paul’s letters to the Romans, Abraham believed in God’s promises, through his helpless, unseen faith. Abraham had only experienced one of God’s promises coming to reality; the birth of his son, Isaac. And because of that, his trust in God was given to him as having God’s righteousness; not his own. “For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or his descendants through the law…. but through the righteousness of faith.”

John (3: 1-17)

Nicodemus, the leader of the Jews, we know being a leader he has studied the laws of the Jewish faith, but here he is, in the middle of the night, reaching out to Jesus. A man, not dressed like the other leaders and sleeping out under the stars, in the dirt, maybe he has a mat of some sort to lay on. We have heard that Jesus had no place to lay his head. And here is this leader dressed in clean robes.

Nicodemus, calls Jesus “Rabbi” and he has watched and listened to Jesus, he tells Jesus, “we know you are a teacher who has come from God; for no “one can do these signs that you do apart for the presence of God.”

This is a powerful statement from Nicodemus, he recognized that Jesus is doing these things and God is present. But it is kind of in a question from him for Jesus, and Jesus turns it around on… 

Nicodemus by saying “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above. “no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.

Nicodemus…looking confused…Jesus says, do not be astonished. 

Above…you must be born from above! Jesus turns the conversation to what matters and points 

Nicodemus in another direction.

Jesus knows Nicodemus wants to see God’s will, God’s kingdom, but he is stuck in the old ways and is not listening.

Jesus has come to open the door for God’s kingdom, He refers to the baptism of repentance, and born of water; and the transformation we get when we are baptized and born of the Spirit.

Believing, we do not know where the wind comes from, He tells Nicodemus, or where it goes, but knowing and believing and having faith we know the effects of God’s Spirit and we know it is all around us, God’s breath, and we feel it when we are born of the Spirit.


It was hard in those days 2000 plus years ago to understand something you cannot see. 

We today, have everything at our fingertips, we do not even have to have an imagination, we just look it up. Go to google earth or look up the images that the Hubble telescope has sent to earth.

One time I was telling someone about something I saw on the news, and she said, I did not see that? I said, just because you did not see it, does not mean it did not happen. 

There are thousands of people who still do not believe in God, Jesus, or the stories in the bible.

I say how can you NOT!

But, today and then, we have been given the knowledge of faith.

In our first reading, Abram and his followers are grounded in the surprise, obedience, faith, courage, grace of a new beginning, kind of like a new birth. They must go on a journey.

In the second reading, Paul identifies that God has created a new people, a new part of the family through the faithfulness of and faith in Jesus the Messiah. “For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith.”

Here Jesus is offering us someone visible and recognizable who embodies the Spirit of God, himself. And we must believe in the mystery of the incarnation. Christ is real and present. 

In the scriptures this morning, we are seeing a thread that connects them all together. I see no better way then to top off the lessons with one of the most loved scriptures of all time.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

In our second Sunday of Lent, go on that journey, reconnecting to God and to your faith in Christ, to receive new life and hope in the resurrection.

Do not focus on earthly things, focus on the breath of God, all around you.

The Reverend Lola Culbreath