Service Schedule

Sundays 

Traditional Service 8:00 am

Sunday School 9:15 am (adult and children's options available)

Contemporary Blend 10:30 am (child care available)

Junior Church (K-5th Grade) 10:30 am

BYM Sr (8th thru 12th grade) - 6:00 pm

 

Wednesdays

Choir Practice 6:30 pm

Prayer Meeting 7:30 pm

Kidz Klub (age 4 thru 4th grade) - 6:30 pm

BYM Jr (5th thru 8th grade) - 6:30 pm

Men's and Ladies' Bible Studies - 6:30 pm

Directions

We are located at 155 Reedsville Road, Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972

For customized directions from your location, click on the map below:


View Larger Map

If you need to contact us, please call our office at (570) 739-2241. For office hours, click here.

Wet Cement Theology

 A blog from Jeff Byerly at Bethesda EC Church

The world doesn't need another know-it-all theologian. My goal is simply to search the Scriptures, analyze current theological dicussions, respond to the events of the global, national, and local communities in which I live, and share my life incarnationally in order to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. As I do this please realize that I am wrong from time-to-time and more often than I think. :-) I am also naturally skeptical and often doubt convictions that are held tightly by many others. I invite you to dialogue with me in this same spirit--to explore how Jesus intersects with our world and to keep our sanity as we view this world from his kingdom perspective. 

THE WAY OF THE MASTER

Posted by Jeff Byerly on Friday, February 14, 2014 @ 5:35 PM

I’m continuing to look at the way Jesus conversed with people in gentle, but firm encounters. As you may recall, my point has been simply to understand that there was no prescribed way of the master, but rather varied encounters of listening, exposure, and more questions to explore. Such was the case with a second example from John’s gospel.

CASE #2: Nicodemus

Unlike the woman at the well, Nicodemus was a very religious man—in fact, a leader of the ruling council in Jerusalem. His political party of the Pharisees strongly opposed Jesus, but Nicodemus was sensitive to Jesus’ teaching and his demonstration of miracles. He believed Jesus to be sent from God. Yet, in their encounter, Jesus felt compelled to expand Nicodemus’ limited ideas about the spiritual life.

Jesus starts his discussion with Nicodemus with the statement that no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. Yes, this statement is the hallmark phrase of the Evangelical movement in America—Are you born again? Now let’s note once more that Nicodemus is a religious leader who is supposed to know the ways of God. Let’s also note that we don’t find Jesus using this phrase anywhere else in the gospels. It’s unique to this story. I think that we need to seriously consider why Jesus would talk about this concept uniquely and solely with Nicodemus.

I think that Jesus wanted Nicodemus (a religious leader) to realize that the way of the kingdom was radically different than the way that the world operated … and, in fact, much different than the system of the ruling council in Jerusalem. As we could note in hindsight, we know the way of the kingdom was much different than anything present in their world at the time. Jesus simply says to Nicodemus, “Nick, in order for you to see what the kingdom is about … and what I am about … you’ll need to start over (be born again). You will need to be born from above, and be given eyes to see into the spiritual world in order to pull back the curtains of the façade of this world. You must really start over! You must trust the Spirit! And be born again … born from above.”

Now, I would venture that Jesus spoke this solely and uniquely to Nicodemus (and not in any of the other encounters), because he was working with someone who truly needed to deconstruct his view of God and his religious system. Nicodemus really needed to start over!

I sensed the words, “You must be born again,” had great appeal during Christendom (in 20th century America), because the context was saturated with a Judeo-Christian religious subculture. During that time, the phrase was used with some success, but eventually became attached to dogmatic faith and pushed people further away from God. I wonder if “being born again” isn’t lost on our audience today, because we were not faithful in understanding Jesus’ context and often used the phrase inappropriately. In fact, I wonder if it may not already carry enough “damaged misunderstandings” that it should be given some rest, or used strictly when dealing with someone who must deconstruct a religious view and essentially start over. I think I would much rather use the phrase, “You must start over … you can’t get to God following that path. You’ll have to go back and start over.” Isn’t that essentially what Jesus meant?

Atop the roof (the place where people hung out in the evening), Jesus feels the cool evening breeze and says: “The wind blows where it wishes and we can only see and hear its effects. So it is with the Spirit.” Essentially Nicodemus questions what it all means, “How can this be?”

We don’t know if there was more said than what gets recorded in the rest of that passage. It seems in John’s (and the Spirit’s) estimation that was the significant portion of all that was said. It seems that Nicodemus left without a clearer vision of Jesus or the kingdom. I would conjecture that Nicodemus left with even more burning questions that needed answers. For him, the deal was not sealed with the “born again” conversation. And Jesus seems okay with that.

Personally, I think that Nicodemus drew even closer. He was intrigued and followed more intently to discover for himself who Jesus was and what his kingdom was about ... and what it meant to start over. We don’t know where his transfer from darkness to light took place, but isn’t that the role of the Spirit as he draws us all out of darkness. He is like a wind blowing through our lives, he will produce results and we will simply see and hear him working. So we will just need to listen carefully, expose glimpses of the kingdom wherever we go, and allow the Spirit to do his mysterious work.

Steve Svenson said...

Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 @ 8:13 PM -
I can only imagine being raised and educated the way Nicodemus was, so deeply steeped in the theology of the day. He had a lifetime of learning to un-learn. It might have actually been easier if he could be litteraly reborn and start over as you suggest. But it doesn't seem like he was opposed to a different view. I would have to believe that he and most people would have been thrilled to get out from underneath of that yoke of religion they were under. Even though he was a leader in the religion, he was obvioysly smart enough to pick up what Jesus was putting down. So what does it take for anyone to get to the point where they are ready to repent or "change their mind"? Is that only the work of the Holy Spirit?

Add Your Comments

Your Name:
Email A Friend
From Name
From Email
To Name
To Email
Note