Sermon Synopsis: We were made in God’s divine image so that there would be a continuous loving relationship between the creator and every human being. To incline us toward that end, God planted in each soul the constant yearning for the fulfillment of that divine-human connection. The absence of that relationship manifests itself as a deficit in human experience. Whatever our situation, status, or station in life, questions will be raised deep within us about this issue--How may we obtain the soul contentment we seek, achieve the fullness of life for which we are destined, and enjoy abundance of life in time and eternity? Jesus discerned such longing in Nicodemus. The answer he offered him speaks to the questions our souls are asking today. The admonition that we must be born from above is about reconnecting and sustaining the relationship with the divine source of our being. On Reformation Sunday, we are reminded that an authentic “born again” experience must include a continuous process of being renewed in the spiritual connection to the family of God. To have a vibrant relationship with God demands that we treat our fellow human beings with justice and compassion. Racial bigotry and brutality are incompatible with the genuine claim of being “born again.” Hatred of others questions whether one has been “born from above.”
The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr. is National Minister of the Drum Major Institute, Senior Minister Emeritus of the Riverside Church, the Harry Emerson Fosdick Distinguished Professor at Union Theological Seminary, and President of the Healing of the Nations Ministries (all of these institutions of New York City). Additionally, Dr. Forbes is a highly acclaimed author, scholar and nationally sought-after speaker, affectionately referred to in national and international religious circles as the preacher’s preacher because of his extensive preaching career and his charismatic style. Newsweek magazine once recognized Forbes as one of the 12 “most effective preachers” in the English-speaking world. As a passionate educator, administrator, community and human rights activist and interfaith leader, Dr. Forbes was twice designated as one of America’s greatest Black preachers by Ebony magazine. Dr. Forbes is a featured TEDex speaker and also a frequent guest & contributor to top national media outlets including Huffington Post, MSNBC and others.