WELCOME to this little website post for Digby Baptist Worship. Here, Sunday afternoon, video clips from the 11 am service are posted, added to the sermon text that is here. (Oops, we missed out on recording the children’s bowling tournament today!) More worship plans can be read in the Bulletin, here on this website. Our Holy Week Newsletter is now out – read it also here on the Website.
SERMON: Truth King. Today I want to ‘preach’ with you, so this will be what gets called a dialogue sermon. We will have some conversation. Let us pray.
May the words of our mouths, and the meditations of all our hearts, be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
When I was still a teenager I went off to college, and learned a whole lot of new hymns at the University Chapel. One Welsh tune I grew to love had hymn words that included this bit of verse:
New occasions teach new duties,
Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward still and onward,
Who would keep abreast of truth.
Another regular worshipper in those pews was my philosophy professor, Dr. Forsman, who was a good singer as well as a good thinker. God rest his soul, He took exception to the words of this hymn. Time makes ancient good uncouth? Keep abreast of truth? Truth, Rodger Forsman taught, was a sure thing, unchanging. What’s true is true, it does not shift or get updated.
I did get my only A+ in eight years of university in his Symbolic Logic course, but I disagreed a bit with him about our use of the word ‘truth’. We have more than one use. And now, thirty years later, truth seems to mean all sorts of things!
What is truth? When Jesus spoke of it, privately, with Pilate, the Roman Governor asked Him, ‘What is truth?’ We don’t get to read the rest of that conversation – if there was any. They did speak together later, after Pilate had Him flogged.
What would you say is truth?
And is there more than one thing we mean when we speak of truth?
Today, I am calling the Jesus I know our Truth King. He gets into truth talk when asked about being a king. “So you are a king?” asked Pilate. And Christ replies, “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.”
You know I have pondered this before: how much truth, knowledge and wisdom does Jesus have, and give out to us? Often, I think our Master is relegated to being an expert on the spiritual realm, and an expert on what we should each do with our lives. We go to Him (1) for the salvation of our souls and (2) to know “the will of God for my life.”
If truth is facts, real things about the world, then we should be able to rely upon God Incarnate to show us what is true in every category. Yes, Jesus is our expert on human spirituality. Yet we can tell the world there is more to get from Him. He – our route to know God – is a source of wisdom about philosophy, and science, and history, and human culture, and economics, and the future. The God who is behind it all is available to us in Jesus, one of us.
We can turn this around and realize how things in nature show us God. Meeting and knowing other people shows us good things about the Spirit. Deep thoughts, beautiful things, big problems, and our relationships – these all can be doorways to the Divine. Our ancient holy scriptures says these things:
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you;
the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.
‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
What different sorts of true things has God shown you?
Another thing I am thinking about in this preaching is the problem with truth today. It’s gotten all mixed up. Now, if we say we need to keep up with the truth (keep abreast of truth) we mean what we know about what is true. If what we thought was real changes, we have gotten closer to the truth. What we thought was true was not quite right before. Before people understood the earth goes around the sun, it was not true that the sun went around the earth.
But ‘truth’ gets truly misused today. On the world political stage we’ve had a US president who seemed to claim many of his obvious lies were true, and now a Russian leader seems to do the same.
Now on the local level we often hear people ‘speaking their truth.’ I think this means: tell your real experience. But there seems to be, sometimes, this feeling that ‘I have my story, my truth, and you have yours.’ We have to respect one another, & not push our views on each other.
I suppose the best way I have always thought about how to point people to the God I know is to tell my story, my true experience, and let them respond. The days of being pushy about religion are over – and that’s a good thing.
And then we hear these words of Jesus, translated for us as: 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.
How do you speak your true experience of God?
How do you sense someone else’s story is real?
Let me end our sermon with words of Frederick Buechner, and of Jesus.
Jesus did not say that religion was the truth or that his own teachings were the truth or that what people taught about him was the truth or that the Bible was the truth or the Church or any system of ethics or theological doctrine.
X said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (Jn 14:6)
THE truth is what Pilate is after: the truth about life, the truth about death, the truth about truth itself. That is the truth we are all of us after.
Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13)
PRAYERS of the People: O Guide of our souls and provider of our footsteps: we pray with gratitude for all the ways we find the Way, the Truth and the Life. This first day of the week we offer our gifts at the altar, in the name of Jesus. This start of spring we offer our fellowship for Your activity to be done. This year of hope we offer our prayer for so many we care about, nearby and far away…
We admit the ways we feel helpless and hopeless, God. We admit the actions that have been unchanged and selfish in us. We admit the lack of cooperation we have offered to others…
We pray, in the power of Jesus: Over the people for Ukraine, one month into the horrors of war. For those still in the country and those now as refugees. May they feel the Light of your comfort, your peace, your constant presence within agony. Over the NATO leaders meeting to discuss support for Ukraine, we pray for wisdom. Over Russians who ache to see what their government is doing and who are directly feeling the effects on their lives as they are silenced and economically stretched. Over Validiar Putin, may his heart be transformed. Over those across Ukraine, Russia, Europe and the world who are saying NO to hate and violence through incredible creative acts of courage and love.
We do rejoice, O God, in the courage and compassion we see, in Europe, and around the world. Bless the amazing gifts from our community for the Red Cross and other emergency relief agencies. Bless our Baptist partners in Europe, working, in the Jesus’ name.
O Spirit of Jesus, Spirit of Truth, You are Reality with a Personality. As You have been real to us in worship, be real to us every morning, noon and night of this week. AMEN.