Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sermon for Nov 25, 2012; John 18:33-38

Rev. George Miller
John 18:33-38
“What Is Truth?”
Nov 25, 2012

This month our theme has been “truth.” We heard that the Lord our God is One and we shall have no other God before him.

We met a widow and discovered that although the world may ration out supplies, following the call of God will create “enough.”

Last week we discovered that stones, no matter how large, can be toppled and destroyed, but Christ will live forever.

Today we conclude our series by trying to discern who Jesus is to us, and we do so with a tense and passionate scripture.

Two men are engaged in a power match in which they use words like “king”, “kingdom”, “world” and “truth.”

Pilate, governor of the territory, wants to do what is right. But right for who?

He claims he wants the truth, but what he really wants are facts he can comfortably wrap his head around.

By asking if Jesus is the King of the Jews, Pilate is essentially asking “Have you come here to rile things up and lead the people in a military revolt against the government?”

Pilate, in asking a simple yes or no question, hopes that Jesus will pick the easiest path so it will be all over and done with and Pilate can go back to doing whatever Pilate does.

But Jesus is no pawn. He will not follow the easiest of roads. In a display of true strength and courage, he refuses to give Pilate what he and the angry people think they want.

By neither saying yes or no, Jesus is now even more dangerous to the governor.

At the end, Pilate is left asking an existential question: “What is truth?”

Last week we talked about the difference between facts and truth. Facts are bits of information and data, things which can be easily memorized or stored into a computer.

Whereas truth, well truths are things that are integrated, learned. Truths are the lessons come across in a play like “Hamlet” or a book, like the “Life of Pi”.

Last week we heard two poems about best laid plans and hubris lost upon the sands.

Today, another poem, one by Robert Frost, called “The Road Not Taken.”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

…Like many, I am drawn to this poem, thinking of all the places I’ve been, choices that were made, realizing that more often that not its been taking the roads less traveled that have brought me here thus far.

Think of the roads our congregation has taken…

The paths our country’s forefathers and mothers forged…

The watery course our ancestors took when they decided it was better to cross an ocean then to live on solid land ruled by tyranny…

None of these paths were neither well traveled, nor yellow brick roads; more like briars and thorns.

Which perhaps sums up a Christian life that is truly lived.

To say that Jesus is King is beyond political; it is a theological statement that touches upon every sphere of living.

Sure (as we’ve experienced again and again), Christianity is something that can easily be said, but living as a true Christian is not something so easy to do.

Thank God for the gift of grace, because Christianity, really following the ways of Christ, is going down a path that has been the one less traveled.

A path in which our concepts of truth carry over to the behaviors we exhibit and the choices which shape our daily lives, from how we run our households to who we vote for.

These choices are based on the truths of who we believe Jesus to be.

Last week, I asked you to engage in an exercise in which everyone was encouraged to say what kind of spiritual stone we should use as our church’s foundation.

Listen to the list again. This time, ask yourself if these are also the words you would use to describe the Kingdom of God.

In alphabetical order, you said:

Acceptance, action
Caring, compassion, courage
Faith, faithful, friendship
Hope, hospitable, humility
Trust, transparency

All these words pack power; all these words speak and sing; all these words carry truth.

But alas, these are not the easiest words to follow. The roads, the paths they create are not the ones most traveled.

For if they were there would be less dysfunction within our own families and under our own roofs.

If they were the paths most taken, instead of simply saying we are a Christian nation, we would be living as a Christian nation, more united then divided.

All of our children would be well educated, none of our veterans would be on the street asking for help, nor would our elderly be dying abused and alone in nursing homes.

If these words were indeed truths we could all live by, the world would experience less hunger and homelessness because as Christians we would want to make sure that everyone indeed would have “enough.”

Pilate asks “What is truth?”

Jesus Christ is our truth. Jesus is the King of the Heavenly Kingdom and he has laid down a path before us.

It’s a path so many people often find easier to talk about, but not so often is it the road everyone is so eager to take.

It’s a path that has yet to be worn out, even after 2,000 years.

It is a path that does indeed contain thorns and leads to a cross, but it also a path that leads us to the marvelous beyond.

In conclusion, Jesus, our True King, has already started the way, creating a path for us, if we are willing to listen, if we are brave enough to follow.

What will it take for each of us to go a bit further down that road, even if it is just the smallest of steps?

How could choosing to follow a road, constructed by the truth of Christ, make for us all the difference?

May God continue to speak to us, may the Holy Spirit continue to challenge us, may Jesus continue to lead the way.

May we be cheerful in our listening and courageous in our following.


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