You Can Handle The Truth

John 16:12-15  – Trinity Sunday (or) the First Sunday following Pentecost – for Sunday, May 26, 2013

“When the Spirit of truth comes, s/he will guide you into all the truth…” (John 16:13)

"You can't handle the truth!"
“You can’t handle the truth!”

Jesus—so said John’s Gospel—spoke to his disciples about the Spirit of truth.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth . . .

According to my second-hand, hardbound, outdated Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the word “truth” is used in the Bible (caution…Strong’s uses the King James Version) around 250 times. I apologize for the qualifying word “around,” but Strong’s print has gotten smaller as I’ve aged. An accurate count is a challenge.

I’m just telling the truth here. Remember, truth has a “u” in the middle!

I could say, “Trust me.” It’s another word with “u” in the middle, but the exhausting Strong’s lists fewer Biblical variations of trust than truth, so trusting may not be as important as being truthful.

There’s an inspiring, intimidating Sufi* saying (although a Facebook friend—always a reliable source—informed me the saying originated with Buddhists*) that goes like this . . .

Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.

At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?”

At the second, ask, “Is it necessary?”

At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”

Buddhist or Sufi, those three questions should cause me to keep my trap shut most of the time! Continue reading →

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6 Words

John 13:31-35 – The Fifth Sunday of Easter – for Sunday, April 28, 2013

“Just as I have loved you…” (John 13:34)

Auden.Crooked NeighborIn John’s Gospel, immediately after Judas departed the upper room—departed to sell Jesus out to the first bidder, departed to become one of the best or worst known disciples, departed because of his fetid fears or selfish schemes—Jesus summed up the good news in 6 words.

In the upper room, Jesus had gathered his disciples.

In the upper room, Jesus had washed their feet.

In the upper room, Jesus had broken bread and shared wine.

In the upper room, 6 stunning, simple but never simplistic words were shared. (At least 6 in English!)

You do know those 6 words, don’t you?

Just as I have loved you.

Or maybe you need the context of the entire verse:

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should also love one another.

Familiar now? It’s the new commandment. It’s a variation of the Golden Rule. It’s so easy to say and so hard to accomplish.

It’s really not the Golden Rule. Isn’t love your neighbor as you love yourself the Golden Rule?

Or this gilded Biblical request:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12).do-unto-others

Even more ancient, how about Leviticus 19:18’s You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

To be non-Biblical, there’s Confucius with . . . Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.

I could keep scouring the Internet or my bookshelves for more insights. But any version of the gilded rule is usually based on me. Treat others like I want ME treated. Do I mean the ME who’s thoughtful, helpful, kind, compassionate and humble? I like that ME! ME can be so good! However—and you can guess what’s coming next—there’s another ME. Uh-oh. The guy that’s full of himself, that if he’s not always right, he can at least be loud. The ME that mirrors the ABCs of human foolishness: Arrogant, Bombastic and Conniving. (Hey, I could find an awful but honest description of ME with every letter of the alphabet.)

Which ME do you want me to be whenever I treat you with my skill set? Loveable Larry or Larry the Lunkhead? Continue reading →

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Easter Mourning

John 20:1-18 (along with Luke, Mark and Matthew) – Easter – for March 31, 2013

“Early on the first day of the week . . .” (John 20:1)

Looking east as the earth spins, revealing dawn . . .
Looking east as the earth spins, revealing dawn . . .

What Gospel will you read when Easter’s dawn teases the new day?

Will you choose Easter celebration or Easter mourning?

When I served in churches, I’d search for Easter’s official time even before Lent began. After all, sunrise in Fresno, California will be “later” than Fargo, North Dakota.

I liked discovering the official civil twilight. Civil twilight is a naval term for the first (or the last) glimpse of a defined horizon:  Night is over, but it’s not yet dawn. Whenever Easter appears on the calendar, and wherever I lived, knowing when civil twilight began helped me choose the time for Sunrise Service.

On March 31, 2013 in Fresno, California civil twilight will be 6:20 AM. Sunrise arrives twenty-six minutes later at 6:46 AM. Ta-da! Now you can plan your celebration (at least if you live near me)! Quick, post the time on your church’s web page. Of course, you may choose to ignore this data and start at another time because of your church’s we’ve-always-done-it-this-way tradition or your personal pastoral preference to maximize beauty rest. Or you’re a layperson and want to complain about how early or late Sunrise Service is because you have the facts about exactly when dawn will knock on Easter’s door! You choose.

But let’s return to civil twilight to understand another choice. The Earth spins at over a thousand miles per hour and you—whether Fresno, Fargo or far, far away is your zip code—stare toward the east. Brace yourself. Traveling at the speed of the Earth’s spin is not for the faint of heart! In the dark you wait, expectant for the first glimpse of light.

Will you delight in the new day or will you have regrets? What awaits?

And what will you read from scripture that truthfully prepares you for this particular year’s Easter? Hurry, the light’s coming. Choose! Continue reading →

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