Quiet Conversations
I remember being at the ordination of a Missouri Synod pastor at Trinity Lutheran in
Shawnee, Kansas. I was happy to be a part of the occasion. During the last part of the
service pastors blessed the new pastor with a Bible verse. I thought, how nice. I was
unaware that all the pastors there were supposed to have a verse in mind. I was a bit
stunned when the mic was handed to me for my verse. The verse that came to mind
was John 3:16: “For God so loved that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in
him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Martin Luther called this verse “the heart of the Bible, the Gospel in miniature” so not a
bad choice
You might be surprised that this verse was part of a quiet conversation that Jesus had
with Nicodemus, a pharisee, a ruler of the Jews. He comes at night. He does not want
the other rulers to know of his visit. They do not understand what Jesus is about, they
feel their power is being threatened. Even now they are trying to trap Jesus and work
against his ministry because they feel he is working against theirs. Remember last
week? Jesus overturned the tables in the temple, he was signaling that change was on
the way.
Nicodemus sees that Jesus is a “teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs
that you do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2). To his credit Nicodemus’ eyes are
open, expectant. Jesus suggests that Nicodemus be “born again”.
When I was a youth, “being born again” meant you accepted Jesus into your heart with
a particular prayer. Once said that prayer assured your eternal salvation. One special
prayer and you were good forever.
Interestingly, the verb here and throughout the Gospel of John used for eternal life is not
future tense but present tense. Eternal life is not just for “someday” but for now and into
the future. We are invited to live in the unending presence of God. It is not just a one-and-done but unending.
When I blessed that newly ordained pastor, I did not expect that it would be one and
done. He would face challenges in the years ahead, especially when the Seminary he went to in St. Louis kicked out most of his professors. Those professors were like
Nicodemus, they had eyes open to see what new revelations might have in store.
They had seen science and the Bible coming together not drifting apart. They had seen
the study of the scriptures as an adventure, not as a predefined path. Sadly, the
denomination as a whole voted over and over again for sameness over change. Still no
women pastors.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that the “Spirit blows where it wishes” (John 3:8). Sometimes it
blows in unanticipated directions.
These are uncomfortable words for Nicodemus. He is rather comfortable in his current
situation; he is not too excited about change. Few people who are “living the good life”
are interested in change.
Certainly, the people of Israel, Gaza, and Ukraine were not interested in having their
world turned upside down. But change is baked into every part of the universe down to
the smallest particles. Literally, nothing stays the same. We never are “one and done”.
Kudos to Nicodemus for being open to the signs of God revealed in the hands of Jesus,
God in motion.
There are times I wish society had not changed much over the years. When I was
young main line churches were in their heyday: Full churches and building projects.
Walt Cronkite was not yelling the news.
Beneath the calm, there was a wind blowing. Vietnam was burning and they would not
allow our intervention to stand. The multicultural nature of our country and of our world
was advancing amid riots and assassinations. More quietly, women were brought into
leadership in our church.
Jesus tells Nicodemus he is like the image of the serpent, Moses lifted up in the
wilderness. The people of Israel, in the wilderness, were being bitten by snakes and
dying. By looking up to the serpent on the pole, they were healed of the snake’s venom.
The snakes were still there, but the poison was not allowed to touch their hearts.
Jesus offers us and Nicodemus relief from the poison in our world. The snakes are still
there, selling poison, drugs, misinformation, weapons, and war. Still, the Son of Man is
lifted up “that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
God in Jesus was not one and done, he continues to work through us and around us.
Nicodemus invites us to keep our eyes open to the hand of God in motion and to enter
into the unending presence of God.
God, you so loved that world that you gave your Son. He was lifted up on the cross so
that when we are snake bitten our hearts might not be poisoned. You invite us instead
to live in your unending presence. May we lift you up and may our actions mend what is
torn and tattered within us and in our world.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor John Bunge

Souper Studies on the Life of Peter in the Fireside room @ 5 pm. We are using Adam
Hamilton’s book Simon Peter, Flawed but Faithful Disciple.
Time of Meditation –Nelson Hall continues leading a time of prayer and meditation on
Thursdays @ 1 pm. Join this group in unity of prayer and meditation.
LAUREN SCHAFER our Office Assistant’s hours are: 12:30-3:00 M – Th.
The Pastor will be in the office Tuesdays and Wednesdays through March.
Confirmation Classes meet each week at 11:15 am.
Next Pantry – Next Saturday, March 9, and also March 23. Special Offerings during
Lent will go to support this ministry, which served 60-plus families last week. Many are
elderly. Pick up – Thanks to Joe Koenig, our current saintly man of Faith, who picks up
the food from Feeding America on Thursday mornings at 6 am. We could use a backup
just in case. Let Carol know if you are interested.
Choir – We practice at 9:00 am before services.
WELCA – We had a nice group last week. The Next Women’s Bible Study will be April
6. at 9:30 a.m. in the Fireside Room.
QUILTING – Emily Smith’s Group (909.255.2452) has completed 16 for Central City
Lutheran Mission and 6 for Lutheran World Relief. They also gave 23 lap quilts to
Smiles Seniors of Yucaipa.
Praise for your Prayers
Brenda Batt’s grandson Bronson has not had a headache for a few weeks. Thanks for
the prayers.
 Pray for the Cady family. Steve’s mother Donna passed away in her sleep on Monday
February 26 at 6 am. She requested no funeral or memorial service so there are no
plans as yet.
 Erwin needs back surgery which was postponed. Erwin also appreciates our continued
prayers for Lynda.
 Eloise is still home recovering. Thanks, Carol, for your visit to her.
 The Koenig Family –Jeanne was with us on Sunday but needs our continued prayers.
We are also praying for their daughter, Jessica, as her leukemia leaves her tired. Lucas is in
our prayers.
 Kyle and Dana’s son, Kevin’s, Mother-in-Law, Lisa, cancer was found even after
 Cesar and Kim would also appreciate prayers for their sons, Tim, and Kyle.
 The Sheas would appreciate prayers for Rebecca and Chris Herandez in need of
housing for themselves and the twins.
 Continued Godly journey for Brendan Simms, son of Bonnie Strack.

We have decided on a bulletin board and will be putting it up in the Fireside Room so
we can display lots of pictures of Faith in action.
If you have any that you have taken, please forward via email to Debi Hitter,
debihitter@msn.com. She will print them for the bulletin board and pass them on
to Lauren for the website.

MARCH 10 – 75 Anniversary Thanks Recognition to our OUTREACH committee–
Fellowship Team and Quilters – Paula and Aiden will provide their fabulous Ramon
Soup. Karen will provide the Chocolate Cake.
MARCH 17 – ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARTY – Please wear your green.
Reuben Sandwiches, Sauerkraut, Jerry Mill’s fabulous potato salad, Karen
Hall’s luscious chocolate cake.
St. Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland, he likened the three-
leaf clover to the Triune God. The courage of his evangelical outreach was