How Do We Begin Again?


Message Title: How do we begin again?
Theme: Seeking
Season: Lent
Main Text: Genesis 12:1-4a;
Scripture Reading:
John 3:1-17
RCL Scripture:
Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17 or Matthew 17:1-9
Focus: Abram and Nicodemus are asked to start again.
To consider God’s trustworthiness in the midst of stepping into the unknown.
Other Notes:
COMMUNION, *sanctified art curriculum, BAPTISM CLASS on Mar 12

SCRIPTURE READING: John 3:1-17 There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could do these miraculous signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born anew,[a] it’s not possible to see God’s kingdom.” Nicodemus asked, “How is it possible for an adult to be born? It’s impossible to enter the mother’s womb for a second time and be born, isn’t it?” Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don’t be surprised that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ God’s Spirit[b] blows wherever it wishes. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. It’s the same with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said, “How are these things possible?” 10 “Jesus answered, “You are a teacher of Israel and you don’t know these things? 11 I assure you that we speak about what we know and testify about what we have seen, but you don’t receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Human One.[c] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Human One[d] be lifted up 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. 16 God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. 17 God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him.


  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Who can define Thalassophobia?
    1. Thalassophobia (thuh-lah-sow-phobia) is an intense phobia or fear of large bodies of water. If you have thalassophobia, you may be afraid of the ocean, sea, and large lakes. Some people may deal with a little anxiety about the ocean.
    1. I’m gonna show pictures and videos about the ocean today—here’s your warning.
      1. It might be shocking to find out, but only 5% of the ocean has been explored and charted by humans. The rest, especially its depths, are still unknown.[1]
    1. Deep sea infographics:

TRANSITION: I don’t know about you, but I think I have thalassophobia about the unknown in general, not just the depths of the ocean. Unfortunately for us fearful folk, God still calls us into the unknown. In our text today we will connect with Abram and Nicodemus as they are called to start a new. Can we step into the unknown?

MAIN TEXT: Genesis 12:1-4a The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your land, your family, and your father’s household for the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation and will bless you. I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, those who curse you I will curse; all the families of the earth will be blessed because of you.” Abram left just as the Lord told him, and Lot went with him. 


  1. In Gen 11: 31, we are introduced to a man named Abram from the line of Shem (one of Noah’s sons).
  2. In Gen 12, God’s covenant with Abram starts when he is 75 years old.
    1. Abram’s condition: married to Sarai w/ no children. His nephew Lot will inherit because Abram has no children.
    1. God promises Abram a great nation of descendants if he trusts God and goes to a new land that God has picked.
  3. God asks Abram to leave everything he’s ever known and start new.
    1. Move away from your family
    1. Move away from your Tribe/People
    1. Move away from this Land

Step into the unknown & start new


  1. Big Picture:
    1. He’s not yet the Abraham we know. God changes his name (and Sarai’s) in Gen 17- this is the very beginning of Abram’s story.
    1. His son Isaac is not born until Abram is 100- Abram waits 25 years for God’s promise!
      1. It’s no wonder that Abram was not patient – Hagar & Ishmael (also blessed to be a great nation)
      1. Imagine waiting in the unknown for 25 years – God repeating again and again that he’d keep his promise.
  2. Connect to Gospel
    1. Jesus asks Nicodemus to start again – be born again
      1. Relatable moment- Nicodemus takes Jesus literally and asks about a mother’s womb
      1. Something is changed in Nicodemus
        1. Traveling by night – under cover (what would happen if he gets caught? Would look more suspicious because he’s hiding.)
        1. Helps Joseph of Arimathea to care for Jesus’ body and bury him after the crucifixion (no longer scared to be seen associated with Jesus) – treasonous death


  1. Things to consider:
    1. “It’s vulnerable to look for something, to be unsure, to be in need, to feel like something is missing and to try to seek something without knowing where it will take you.” – Seeking by Sanctified Art
  2. BACK TO INTRO: If you were to explore the unknown of the ocean, you would discover the largest animal on the planet. Take a quick look at these majestic creatures:
    1. Blue Whales –
      1. Infographic – blue whales can be 80-100 ft long and over 400,000 lbs. their tongue is the weight of an elephant.
  3. Questions: There are majestic and wonderful things waiting for us in the unknown. Like Nicodemus and Abram, God asks us to start a new.
    1. What ways do you need to start fresh? (Does anyone not qualify for new beginnings? Convicts?)
    1. When does a new beginning for you invite you to be a blessing to others?

COMMUNION: Communion is our way to start fresh each month – Jesus paid it all. We don’t carry any of that old stuff—that doesn’t mean we get to ditch out on our earthly consequences BUT we are forgiven our eternal consequences. We can start new today with this family.

CONCLUSION: Where is God asking you to begin a new?  



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