Sermon Series: Gifts of the Dark Wood

This summer we will be exploring the ideas raised by Eric Elnes in his book called “Gifts of the Dark Wood: Seven Blessings for Soulful Skeptics.” Dr. Elnes takes the expression “the Dark Wood” from Dante Alighieri, who wrote in the Divine Comedy that the Dark Wood was a place of stumbling, of turning away from God because of sin and terror. Yet there is also a strong tradition in Christianity that insists that the Dark Wood is the place where you meet God. In the Dark Wood, facing the unknown and embracing the unknowable, you “bring all your shortcomings with you… to embrace them in such a way that your struggles contribute meaningfully to the central conversation God is inviting you to have with life.”

  • July 23: Uncertainty 

    Though it may seem counter-intuitive, uncertainty may work as a gift in our lives. Do you think that is possible? How do uncertain circumstances make you feel?

    Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13: 8b–13

  • July 30: Emptiness

    If we can find a way to give up  our fear of the loss of the known, what do you think we might find in its place? How would we act differently if we gave up that fear? Where might you find some  space in your life to welcome emptiness?

    Scripture: Job 23

  • August 6: Being Thunderstruck

    Thunderstrikes undermine certainty with new information and revelation. What is so frightening about the possibility of being thunderstruck? Where do you find your faith in an uncertain world?

    Scriptures: Psalm 29 and 1 Samuel 3: 1–12, 15–18

  • August 13: Getting Lost

    Has your path been straight or winding? Have the turns been gentle or sharp? In the face of great change, whose are you? What do you do? How do you believe?

    Scripture: Exodus 2: 11–23; 3: 1–6

  • August 20: Temptation

    Do you have a mission that calls to you? How do you feel when you are following your central call? What good works might tempt you away from your deep gladness?

    Scripture: Luke 4: 1–12

  • August 27: Disappearing

    What frightens you more — the voice within that speaks of your shortcomings, or of your true power? How does disappearing depend on personal particularity? Is it possible to find what you need by turning away from what is expected?

    Scriptures: Psalm 19 and Galatians 2:20

  • September 3: Misfits

    If no one was judging, what is  something your ideal faith community would be doing? How can we as a community embrace the gift of welcoming, and being, misfits?

    Scriptures: Psalm 137: 1–6 and Romans 12: 1–8