The emphasis in our worship this Sunday is squarely on the ever present, ever merciful love of God. Even when we act out of impatience and disobedience, God's loving response is grace and healing.
In their journey through the wilderness, the Israelites continued to founder, and God continued to help them get up and go on. When they became impatient and complained against both God and Moses, God sent poisonous serpents among them. When many were bitten and died, the people repented, and God gave Moses a healing sign for them. As both Jesus and Paul remind us in our readings from the New Testament, darkness and evil continue to exist in our world and exert power over us-in the same way that the serpents remained. And still, God's love and mercy give us life and power to confront and overcome those forces in our lives.
Jesus addresses Nicodemus in our gospel lesson, teaching him more about how one can be "born from above" and see the Kingdom of God. At the heart of this teaching is one powerful and profound truth: "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." Jesus did not come to condemn, but to love, be lifted up, and lift up.
This Sunday is our opportunity to find healing and hope in the gifts of Word and sacraments, in the beauty of liturgy and music, and in the love of community and "home."