Sermon Summary, “Nick and Emma” (John 3:1-21)
Mother’s Day: My Grandma Emma was the first person that I recognized as being born from above. She was made of different stuff. Born in 1885 in Stoughton, WI, she married in 1906 and she and Grandpop, Hakon Matson, moved west to South Dakota where they were pioneers in every sense of the word. In addition to being a farm wife, she taught at a one room school a half mile away.
In 1917 they moved to town, were involved in the community, were founding members of the Methodist Church and other organizations. What I remember about them was their faith. What I remember most was her Bible. I stayed with them every Saturday night from age six to nine and after the news she would read to us from her Bible. Grandma Emma read the redlines.
Our Scripture is about being born from above. Nick (who like us all had a Mother, but unlike Emma, was still in the dark (he came to Jesus by night)). Jesus told Nick, “You must be born from above.” The world the NRSV translates as “above” in Greek means both “again” and “from above.” Of course, Nicodemus, still in the dark understands it as “again” while Jesus’ spiritual connotation is “from above.” Nicodemus seems to believe in the signs, the miracles, in John but not the sign-maker. He is in the dark.
Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms that we will never see the Kingdom of God unless we are born from above (again). We have the same question as Nicodemus, how do we become like Emma? How do we experience rebirth? We need to choose. Do we choose again or from above? Do we choose the signs or the sign-maker? Jesus tells us we have to choose. “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness , so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” Will we turn our back on the exalted Jesus, or will be believe in him?
When we believe in him we receive the gift of faith. We become new creations as Paul put it. We are made of new stuff. That’s what I saw in Grandma Emma. Without a doubt she believed in the exalted Jesus and she had the gift of faith. If anyone had stepped into the light it was Emma, and she led others out of the shadows.
Seven years ago, Emma’s great great grandson was born and amazingly he was named Hakon. Two years later, her great great granddaughter was born and amazingly was named Emma. How is we could have such a heritage? By believing in the sign maker. By walking in the light. By asking each day what does it mean to be a light to my children, my grandchildren, to those I’m called to love.