Sunday, May 30, 2021
©Lauren wright pittman
Dear St. Luke family:
Has anyone ever asked you whether you are “born again”? What did you answer? Did the person imply that there was something wrong with your faith if you don’t think of yourself as “born again”?
There are many ways to be Christian. Christians can disagree on any variety of things and still share faith in the one Lord Jesus Christ. But because this way of talking about faith sometimes makes it sound as though there is a right way to come to faith, and therefore, a wrong way, this Sunday we’ll explore the passage that refers to the need to be “born again,” Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, John 3:1-17. For starters, one of the challenges with this passage is that the Greek word used there, anothen, has a double meaning that gets lost in translation and so each translation picks one and excludes the other – it means “again” or “anew” and “from above.” Perhaps more importantly, this conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus is filled with metaphors, ambiguous imagery, and challenges to Nicodemus to let go of old ways of looking at things. Nicodemus is so concrete and literal that he asks, “Can one enter a second time the mother’s womb?” He can’t recognize a good metaphor when he stumbles into it. And so Jesus pushes him gently: This is about newness, Nicodemus. This is about letting go of old truths, old definitions, old traditions, old theological certainties, and allowing God to lead you into a new and open-ended, hope-filled future.
Jesus makes it clear that this letting go of the old and being open to newness is important. What does this mean for our faith, as individuals? Is it a journey, or a once and done event? What does it mean for our lives? If this is about earthly matters, as Jesus says it is, then what about our earthly existence needs rebirthing? And what does it mean for St. Luke? Can a church be “born again”?
I look forward to seeing you Sunday, either in church or on Zoom.
Grace and peace,