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Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Lectionary Scriptures: Ezekiel 37:1-14, Psalm 104:24-34 & 35b, Romans 8:22-27, John 15:26-27 & 16:4b-15 In John’s Gospel when Jesus is before Pilate (in John 18:37-38, not this Sunday’s lesson), Jesus says to him, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Pilate responds by asking him a question, "What is truth?" It’s a question that is worth asking in any day at any time. There are many out there who have a ready, supposedly definitive, answer. Many wise thinkers, including some of my mentors, have said that it is not so much giving the right answers as it is asking the right questions. In that way of thinking, living as human beings, seeking our fullest potential, is a lifelong process of answering the question—or questions—as one book title has it: Living the Questions. Ephesians 4:15 calls us to speak the truth in love. Many commentators have noted that "the word ‘speaking’ is not in the text. Literally . . . it is ‘truthing in love,’ and includes maintaining, living and doing the truth." An older form of the word truth is "troth," a word which could also be used as a verb, "trothing." In traditional wedding ceremonies, couples often pledged their troth to each other; they were "betrothed," agreeing to live in a relationship of truth. In the conversation with Pilate quoted at the beginning of this blog, Jesus says that his purpose on this earth was "to testify to the truth." In another place in the same gospel (John 14:6) Jesus says, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." It is not about Jesus speaking the truth. He is the truth. He lives the truth. He embodies the truth. Truth is about more than Jesus’ teachings. It is something that we learn by being in relationship with him, by entering into conversation with him, by letting him love us. Jesus understood that there would be a time when people could not literally walk and talk with him. In today’s lectionary reading from the Gospel According to John he speaks to that reality, pointing us to a spiritual relationship. He promises an Advocate, who is "the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father." (John 15:26) We could get bogged down in a lengthy analysis of the nature of the Holy Spirit and the best words to use to describe the Spirit of God embodied in Jesus. In this passage Jesus speaks of "the Spirit of truth" who "will guide you into all truth." (John 16:13) John keeps coming back to the theme of truth in his portrayal of Jesus until it culminates in Pilate’s question, "What is truth?" Truth is not something that can be easily codified, put into a creed to which all are expected to subscribe. It is something into which we are constantly being led. We don’t have it all yet, but we have a spiritual connection of Love which will continue to help truth grow within us and in our relationships. Truthing is an ongoing process. The lectionary reading from Romans 8:22-27 talks about something groaning within us struggling to be born. It notes that we are sometimes at a loss for words. But the Spirit is still at work "with sighs too deep for words." It is part of the Spirit’s work leading us into an ever-growing relationship of truth. When we ask the question, "What is truth?" we begin with an attitude of humility, realizing that we do not know it all, never will. To be related to God is not about having all the answers. It is about being connected with a Spirit who will help us live with and in and through the questions. I find that a lot more exciting that reciting a creed! Pentecost is not about capturing some creed or experience from the past. It is about the living Spirit of truth leading us into the future when we "will know fully, even as" we "have been fully known." In the meantime "we see in a mirror, dimly" and "know only in part." (I Corinthians 13:12)


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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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