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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
that was the mothers of the world as Jesus. Now what about the
subject of conversation – the holy 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
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.
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.
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
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
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
And frankly, she’s repeating
“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
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
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
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.)
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.)
hear your momma when you are struggling? I can mine. moms
are there when you call crying hundreds of miles away or just
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.