A Dark Canvas
Mar 4, 2018 - Rev. Victoria Robb Powers
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Suggested reading for the season of Lent
- Our worship series for Lent is inspired by Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, Learning to Walk in the Dark. Consider purchasing the book to read along with the worship themes and sermons.
- It is available by clicking the link here or at the SMU Barnes and Noble store.
- This week’s suggested reading: chapters 5-6.
March 4th Sermon
“A Dark Canvas” by Rev. Victoria Robb Powers
(Click sermon title to watch video.)
Nicodemus came to Jesus looking for answers. He was a prosperous, curious, and intellectually open man – and also a rational man – but he wasn’t willing to go public with his interest in Jesus, so he came to Jesus in the dark of night.
Many of us are a lot like Nicodemus – we enjoy the Methodist tradition that values curiosity and reason in our faith. We don’t have to check our brains at the door before we walk into HPUMC. Perhaps Nicodemus was really just a good Methodist, but he was confused when Jesus seemed to rationally imply that he needed to re-enter his mother’s womb.
What does it mean to be born from above?
We don’t need to stumble into anti-intellectualism, but we need to acknowledge that there is more wildness and mystery in our faith than we can fully grasp. Our faith is often experienced most in the physical waters of baptism, the bread and wine of communion, rather than in our heads. Jesus asked how Nicodemus could understand heavenly things if not the earthly; the physical things.
Nicodemus had all the answers, as we often do, but Jesus seemed to imply that Nicodemus needed an experience rather than another answer. John Wesley likewise said that he would trade 1,000 reasons for 1 true, authentic religious experience.
The gospel often doesn’t make sense to any of us, but we can still see it – love combined with people and actual earthly things may be the only glimpse of heaven we can see. This religious talk may seem foolish at times – that water and word, body and blood could save us; that loving enemies and turning cheeks could be a good idea – but this is also the truest thing you could ever experience.
In the process of being born from above, we may come to see that these items, practices, and people reveal heavenly things through very earthly experiences.