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  • The Rev. Arianne Rice

Very truly I tell you

Today is the last Sunday we’re going to see our paschal candle front and center for awhile – until April something 2020. As you know everything in worship is a sign – it points to a truth. The candle is the light of Christ – the baptismal candle – in baptism we receive the light of Christ.

I abide in God and God abides in me. That is the ultimate truth statement Jesus shares this morning – another way of pointing to this light that is within us and we are within always. And Jesus says the Advocate will be with us to teach us this truth – again and again.

Wisdom isn’t knowledge we accumulate. Wisdom comes from within us and we reconnect with it thru experience. Wisdom is the deep awareness of truth – that is nondenominational – nonreligious even – wisdom crosses and connects cultures and peoples and races. '

The Spirit, the Advocate teaches us this wisdom through experience – not words. Jesus says “Very truly I tell you” about 1000 times in this gospel. He’s desperate for his words to get the point across – time is limited – but it doesn’t work. We don’t learn wisdom through words – we don’t know something is true through the intellect. We know something is true through experience.

"In the event of an emergency and a loss of cabin pressure requiring oxygen masks – you must put on your own mask before you can assist your child or another passenger." This is a statement that is true in situations far beyond loss of cabin pressure. This is wisdom, a way of saying that you can't give what you don't have. You can't take care of another person if you don't take care of yourself. I know its true not because I've been in a plane crash - thanks be to God - but because I know what burnout is. I've met activitists and caregivers who work on helping people and the world, yet, are angry and not pleasant to be around. Their weariness comes through their resentment. If you're depleted, there is nothing for your to give.

"Past performance is not a guarantee of future earnings and resultsl" I remember coming across this wisdom statement back when I proofed Mutual Fund prospectus'. Sure, you might know this is true from the experience of your investment portfolio, but you also know this truth goes beyond the stock market. In our lives, we might be very used to doing something a certain way and always getting the results we want. But then, all of our sudden, it doesn't work anymore. Just because we're on top, doesn't mean we want fall down. We fail, we fall, we make mistakes. We know this statement is true from our experience.

So, of course Philip wants the experience of God "to be satisfied." To which Jesus responds – wow Peter, you still don’t know me? No he doesn’t – its only been three years. Very truly I tell you if someone you didn’t know for very long said – trust me, very truly I tell you….would you trust that person?

It is the experience of the Spirit that brings Peter to the wisdom deep within him all along. The words that Jesus gave those disciples now make sense! The words that the prophet Joel spoke long ago now make sense!

We don't know someone loves us through their words - its their actions! The same is true with trust, forgiveness, grace. And if someone asks you to explain what those words mean, I'll bet you tell a story of when you experienced it for yourself. That is how we participate with the Spirit in "pouring out the Spirit upon all flesh." When we tell a story from our lives that resonates with the truth in another's heart, we are deepening the connections of the human family of God, building up one another in love.

This is what happens in our community and whenever it happens we are "church."

All of us are preachers – whether we think so or not. Whether it me – or Peter – or you – our lives preach what we know to be true – our lives reveal the knowledge of the light of Christ.

What are the experiences you are being called to share – what are the experiences where you are being called to listen for what you know to be true? This is the gift and the desire of the Holy Spirit – as we move back into ordinary time – the season after the feast of Pentecost. Amen.

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