Water and Spirit

John 3:1-17

Jesus says in John 3:5 that we come into the Kingdom of God by water and spirit. This makes me think of baptism, both the water kind that is common in worship, and the baptism of Pentecost that is less common these days. Water and spirit, here might also be related to the birth process. Water surrounds a baby for nine months. It gives way at birth to the spirit — in greek the same word also means breath and wind. When a child takes that first breath, they are inspired. We each re-spire until we die, or expire.  The word spirit and the words we use to talk about being creatures of the air, have deep linguistic connections. Think of it sequentially. The world was dark and void and God parted the waters. Then he breathed his breath into each creature and made us born again to a new life.Physical birth and spiritual birth have much in common.


Jesus goes on to say about the spirit that it is like an unexplained and unexpected wind. God is constantly involved in our world. We don’t stop to think about this as often as we should. What events are purely natural, and what events are spiritual?


In 1938, Enrico Fermi left a highly successful physics lab in Rome, and came to America to escape fascism. Since the early 30s, the Mussolini government had been generously supporting his work. He and his brilliant assistants won a Nobel prize for work at that lab. But since Enrico’s wife was Jewish, he had to flee to America, where he became fundamental to the Manhattan project and the development of the first atomic bomb.


So where does the Holy Spirit come in? In 1933 Fermi was doing experiments that should have led him to discover fission. If the process for the bomb had been discovered then, the Italian/German Axis would have had it first and that would have changed everything. Instead, the Holy Spirit allowed two Germans to discover the process just before Fermi left for America. It was published just ahead of the news blackout that would have given the Germans the bomb, first.


Am I wrong to see the mysterious moving of God’s Holy Spirit in this?

Hatred, xenophobia, and anti-semitism sent Enrico Fermi to US
Lent 2