About Our Church

 Sunday Services

 Mission

 Education

 Youth Fellowship

 Music Programs

 Join a Group

 Interfaith Ministries

 Sermons
  Current Year
  Prior Years
  Other Writings

 Pastor's Page

 

 

The Spirit of Truth

Sermon - 5/09/10
Rev. April Oristano
First Christian Church, Eugene, Oregon

John 14:23-29

So have you ever been asked the question, “What does your church believe about the Bible? 

It’s in the top 3 questions I get asked.  What does your church believe about the Bible?  Uh, how much time do you have?  And can you please be more specific?  That question is exciting – like a fire cracker – the answer could be a beautiful display in the sky, or it could explode in your hand.

Now last week I was out of town but the week before, I met 3 people,  strangers come into the church and want to speak with the pastor and all three asked that question.  Men, women looking for a church. And then this week there were 3 others, regulars here, folks we know – had dinner, coffees, desserts.  You know that there’s a lot of food involved in my job.  And the topic came up in each of those conversations too.  How am I supposed to read the bible? 

So I’ve been meditating on this for a couple of weeks because  the first guy didn’t get a great response and so I was desperate to think ahead for the next one.  Each one got a little better and now it’s a new game I’m glad to play with anyone

–        it’s called “I believe!” 

You can play it anywhere, and with anyone!  If you’ve never tried it, do it today!  I’m not just rehearsing the answer, and I’m aware that I don’t have all the answers. and I’ve said that before too  But that’s not always received easily, or positively.

I’m not always articulate but on a good day, I think the best answer I can give is that - here  - we aren’t looking so much for the TRUTH as the Spirit of Truth.  One place I got that is from the 14th Chapter of John.

John 14:23-29

23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. 25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

 27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. 29 I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.

 

How funny is it to read this on Mother’s Day?  I picked this in January but it’s so fitting!   I could swear I’ve heard my mother say the same thing we’ve got Jesus saying in v 23. “…all who love me will do what I say.”  (hee hee)

But seriously that was the mothers of the world as Jesus.  Now what about the subject of conversation – the holy spirit –

The spirit, the holy spirit, or spirit of truth will remind you of everything I have said to you.   Again I think of my mom.  Our mothers are an eternal presence – a voice in our heads, a friend on the journey - for better or worse I can hear my mother’s voice, reminding me of all sorts of things

And honestly, it’s really a good thing– because along the way, and from time to time, I lose sight of what’s important, get caught in the details or the stress. And I need to hear her spirit of truth.

In each person’s life, we are gifted with those who have stayed with us through thick and thin.  So today we’re gonna call that person your momma – everybody got one - so maybe it is your biological mama and maybe it’s not – but think of someone that my description matches in your life – call him or her, momma. 

Jesus is reminding us of how valuable our mothers are:  I’m sending someone to you to remind you everything that I say..

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that each month in our newsletter now we have the Who am I section?  When asked who has influenced our Christian life, so far, almost everyone has said “my mom or my dad”.  Because we get the gift of them in our lives and then we get the gift of their wisdom and spirit to stay with us.  Now of course I’m in the May newsletter Who am I? and I  decided to put in another answer, other than my parents,  cause that’s just how I am but then I get a call from my mother asking “Did I not influence your life? “  So I can’t win.  But the answer is of course yes. 

Now, notice I’m not saying that Jesus is trying to tell us to listen to our mothers.  It could be interpreted this way, and as Disciples of Christ, ladies if that is what you want to take home to the kids today, that’s your business, but I’m going to suggest another way.

Chapter 14 v. 1 begins with Jesus reminding them of the covenant – trust in God.  God loves you and provides for you, so trust that even when Jesus is gone that God is still with them.   Our parents are our first teachers, our mothers, responsible for teaching, disciplining, loving, nurturing.  It is in the covenant, the contract that as the child gets older and things change, our mothers are there to remind us of the promises she made to us long ago – to love us as much as she could, forever and always.  no matter what we do.  And boy do we like to test that. 

When we are Early in our faith, we hear that God loves us and that if we simply obey, we will be with God forever.  Being raised in a conservative Christian community I remember how precious and secure it felt to know that I was saved.  That I was special and included.  And how marvelous and full of life I felt.  Felt loved like my mother’s love. 

Early in our lives our parents have rules, for safety and our health and out of need.  And for a while the child can’t make their own choices, but then they can.  And eventually you’ve said the rule so many times you are now boring and they stop listening.  So you make it sound fun, make it sound exciting, and it just might be.  Make it sound like work, highly likely you’ll be ignored.  I heard myself say the other day “Wow!  I can put crayons in a bucket!  Can you???  Wow, you can! Do it again!” and suddenly all the crayons are picked up…  If I keep that up I can only imagine how boring I will sound to Hannah when she’s 12.  16. 18. 

Flying on American airlines last week and you hear that safety speech a million times – I heard it 3 times in one day – please I could preach a spiritual lesson on the journey of flying from Eugene to Tulsa OK – can’t just get from here to there, it’s a journey… anyway – on the 3rd flight, fully prepared to tune out the safety speech, because let’s be honest, I could GIVE the safety speech.  On the way home Hannah could give the speech, and she’s not even 3.  But so this guy comes on the intercom and from the moment he spoke I couldn’t help but listen.  “Ready to go to Tulsa??  Ok, well Guess what?!!?  There is a safety card right in front of you – don’t believe me?  Check it out for yourself!”  and then a little bit later “Did you know that your seat cushion can be used for flotation?  Wow!  I know!” He made everything more alive – by the end of the flight he actually had most of the passengers singing with him “Here comes Stephanie down the aisle, picking up a garbage pile. Hippity hoppity, stephanie’s on her way!”  I kid you not. 

I used to see God the way I used to see my mom.  The rule maker, the one who loves me the one who knows everything.  And now that I’ve traveled down my own path and happen to have a little one of my own,  I’m  aware that every child is on his or her own journey – even Hannah – she’s on her own journey, her own path, even now.  And that she’s listening..

And frankly, she’s repeating everything. 

            “oh for god’s sake” which I know she heard from me, oops.  But in the library last week I hear her following after another child saying “no baby, stay with your mommy!”  Oh I know it all now, but it’s so short lived.

Oh but so that’s early in life.  Then we grow up.  And challenge our faith.  And our mothers.  Well, the disciples have questions, challenge Jesus too.  First Thomas and then Phillip.   Then Judas.  And you and me.  How will we know the way?  We can’t make it without you.

And so Jesus reminds them yet again in v. 16" I will talk to the Father, and he'll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth.”   Growing in our faith means stepping out on our own, diverging from the “do as I say” path and into the “I feel this is right for me” path.  It’s difficult when we transition in our relationship with our mommas.  With God it takes on a whole new level. An added pressure.  You have to question what your brain says that God believes (because of what we’ve been taught) and what our heart says God believes (because you’re listening to that spirit of truth). 

And so then hanging over our heads, is the idea that there is a perfect formula for a relationship with God.  Disobedience = separation from God.  And suddenly, you’re no longer in, you’re out. Broken, not worthy.

– but that’s not the truth.  That’s not what God wants.   You’re not broken.  Irreparable.  The point of these stories…is to give life…It is hard sometimes to remember that the Bible, the stories, these people shared these stories because they gave life, they filled the body, the soul with powerful positive emotion, they felt connected and appreciated, included, alive, seen.  It is that spirit that wants to live.  Continues to inspire.  And it lives in many places, many voices, many cultures.    The Tao te Ching says many wonderful things that I admit to not understanding – but it resonates inside me, leaves me with questions but also leaves me with peace of mind.  And connection.  The Koran, the tablets of Baha’u’llah, the Nag Hammadi Library, I feel the spirit of truth resonating in each. 

And anytime that the any of these books is used to shame, to exclude, to make you feel guilty, less alive, less appreciated, more hidden and ashamed, justified in hurting others then the good news it is not, and it is not the spirit that John and his community are discussing, not the spirit that invigorated the disciples and Jesus himself.   

The Spirit of Truth, is here to guide us. to help us remember what is important; important to our faith, to our daily living

Can’t you hear your “momma” when you need:

Encouragement?

I can hear my mother encouraging me.  (you’re special.  You can do it.  How will you know if you don’t try?  You’ll figure it out and let me know how I can help.)

Advice?

I can hear my mom as I clean up after myself, (still this week I cleaned off the table, wet wipe, the dry wipe, and as I turned to walk away I stopped.  I could hear her.  Did you check…and so I return to the table to look underneath to find, Mac & cheese noodles stuck underneath and a smear of banana on the leg of her chair.  Thank you, Mom.) 

Can’t you hear your momma when you are struggling? I can mine. moms are there when you call crying hundreds of miles away or just across town. 

Now my good fortune is that I can still go and ask my mother what her opinion is, but even if I couldn’t – she helped me through enough in my life that a message comes through when I think of her.  I mean she doesn’t ALWAYS answer the phone. 

Last week at my grandfather’s memorial service many commented that he will live on inside of us now.  And the spirit of our mothers, our fathers, lives on, are carried with us so that we have an anchor, a foundation.  It’s the best thing they want for us, is to feel like we aren’t alone on the journey.  Through our whole earthly life and beyond.

Whoa.  Having a relationship with God, is like having a relationship with your mother.  That should make us all feel better!   Yes.  all questions are answered now!   

No, there are still many things I don’t know and understand about the Bible, about my life for that matter. 

And so when someone asks me, what does your church believe about the Bible, I say we believe…

This book has a lot of stories so that upon repeated hearing/telling a spirit emerges from all the drama that guides our living.   You know, This little book looks so definitive, so final, encompassing, but it’s not.  It’s got nuggets of truth, wisdom, insight, from many voices and languages. 

That, what we can’t offer in TRUTH or the security and definition of ONE WAY – we can offer the security that questioning is okay here – in fact down right encouraged.

That the struggle is a part of the process, as old as Jacob and the beginning of our faith. 

That the only way we know to go is to go together.

John ends this piece of the story with this thought from Jesus.  In v. 27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.”  That is the spirit that guides.  With peace in the heart.  peace in the mind.  Peace between the mind and the heart. 

That’s all our mothers ever want for us too.  That what I hope for my daughter.  On this day, let us be thankful for all the gifts that God gives us, especially the gift of our mommas.

 


Home | About Our Church | Services | Mission | Education | Youth Fellowship
Music Programs | Join a Group | Interfaith Ministry | Sermons | Pastor's Page
Questions or comments about this web site?  Contact the WebMasters