Lent 2A – Born Again
March 12, 2017
Beginning in the 1500’s, there was a name – a derogatory name –
given to people who were secret believers – the closeted faithful.
It started during the Reformation when Protestant Christians
lived in Roman Catholic countries
and escaped persecution by hiding the fact they were Protestants.
John Calvin called them out –
and he coined the term “Nicodemite.”
The “nicodemites” were named after Nicodemus in our gospel text –
who by day was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin leadership council,
but who by night came to see Jesus.
Over the years, there were a number of notable people
given the label of Nicodemite.
As a Catholic with Protestant sympathies, Michelangelo was said to be a Nicodemite-
He went so far as to sculpt himself as the figure Nicodemus
in his statue of the Pieta in Florence, Italy –
the sculpture was a highly personal work,
thought to be intended for his own tomb.
In the 17th century, Sir Isaac Newton was called a Nicodemite,
for publicly practicing as an Anglican but privately holding unorthodox beliefs.
To be called a Nicodemite was meant to be derogatory..
To be branded cowardly or unable to commit.
Today I’d like to claim the word “Nicodemite” in a more positive way.
I don’t see Nicodemus as cowardly —
I see him as someone who is trying to figure something out.
Who’s in discernment.
Who is willing to admit that he doesn’t have all the answers.
Who actually has a more mature faith than someone who never questions,
Never expresses doubt or disbelief.