October 29, 2017
Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable and suitable in your sight O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.
Telling the truth will make you free, Jesus says. And it will. Which means it will change your life.
Glennon Doyle Melton, author, blogger at momastery.com and public speaker shares that her calling in life, her ministry is truth telling. She’s a reckless truth teller.
'As she was discovering her vocation she shares, “Maybe my public service would be to tell people the truth about my insides.” She decided that she had found her thing: openness. She decided it was more fun to say things that made other women feel hopeful about themselves and God than it was to say or omit things to make people feel jealous of her.' (Carry On, Warrior, p. 6)
This openness meant revealing to the whole world who she was and is…someone who has struggled with drug, alcohol and food addiction, someone who has been arrested many times because of those additions. Someone who worries about how she parents, if she’s doing it right and if she should even be doing it at all.
When she started blogging the truth about who she is and her daily struggles, her dad called her and said, “Glennon. Don’t you think there are some things you should take to the grave?” And she replied, “No. I really don’t. That sounds horrible to me. I don’t want to talk anything to the grace. I want to die used up and emptied out. I don’t want to carry around anything that I don’t have to. I want to travel light.” (Carry On, Warrior, p. 6)
I have listened to her on podcasts and read two of her books and I can say that there is something to being a truth teller. There is something in that profound sharing that helps us connect more deeply with God and with one another. Sharing struggles, worries, anxieties and truths about who we are is freeing, life-giving and real.
There is something about admitting our brokenness, not just to God, but to ourselves and to others. When we do so we are more aware of the sin in our lives, the need for repentance and forgiveness, the need for God and our calling to continue to help and heal others.
Glennon describes all of us as wounded healers. (Carry On, Warrior, p. 50)
Knowing that we are all broken, we come to God for forgiveness and healing, and then we go to forgive and heal others. We are wounded healers, that is who the church is…and is called to be.
We are called to see not only ourselves as wounded, but I believe the greater church as well.
As we gather to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. We look back at a single act, by a single monk, that started something much bigger. When Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, he was hoping to spark conversation and dialogue about how the church needed to be reformed.
Yet once that ball started rolling, there was no stopping it. With the help of the printing press, Martin Luther’s writings were being copied and distributed like wildfire.
While we often gather this day and think of Luther and his translation of the New Testament into German and the teaching tools of the Small and Large Catechism, we often gloss over his writings about the Jews.
Luther's attitude toward the Jews changed over the course of his life. In the early phase of his career—until around 1536—he expressed concern for their plight in Europe and was enthusiastic at the prospect of converting them to Christianity. Luther tended to be stubborn and he could not wrap his mind around how the people of Jewish faith could not see Christ as the Messiah.
Being unsuccessful in conversion, in his later career, Luther denounced Judaism and called for harsh persecution of its followers, so that they might not be allowed to teach.
Sadly, because his writings were so prolific and he himself was such a strong figure in German history, these writings were brought to the surface during the Nazi occupation in Germany.
But who we are today, as a church, and as the Body of Christ, is the reality that we are all wounded healers. We are called to see and name the truth of our past, and how by the grace of God we are continually transformed to speak the truth and continue to live in the light of Christ.
On April 18, 1994 the ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted the “Declaration,” which repudiates Luther's anti-Jewish writings, expresses deep regret for their historical consequences, and reclaims the desire to live in "love and respect for Jewish people."
Sometimes telling the truth is painful, but necessary to move forward.
Jesus says, you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
The theme that Jesus is bringing to his followers is one of freedom. Jesus knows he brings freedom for those who live in him and stay connected to God’s word. He tells them, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Jesus is describing a new kind of freedom. Not just a freedom from the stresses and struggles from everyday life, but a freedom from sin and death…and the promise of eternal life. Not that anyone stops sinning. By nature, humans are sinful and live enslaved to the power of sin. Left to ourselves, we mess things up. Badly.
Even on our best days, we fall short of God’s expectations of us. Falling short includes both things we have actively done and that whole category of things we never get around to doing. Guilt is not a stranger to the Christian. Yet, Jesus sets us free from that guilt.
That is the most amazing thing about God.
That even though we try our best and fall short of perfection, God continues to love and bless us nonetheless.
So, where does that leave us?
We are always in a place to begin anew, thanks to God’s transforming grace and love in our lives and in our world.
Knowing that we are yet sinners, we will go out each day, speaking the truth…to lies in our lives and our world.
We will speak the truth of a God who loves us unconditionally and forgives us our sins.
We will speak the truth of who we are and who God created us and calls us to be.
Will it be easy? Some days yes, others not so much.
But we are reminded that we are connected in this mission…that we are called by Christ, and we gather in that grace, and we go forth joyfully serving.
This is the gift of faith, given to us by God, that carries us out into the world.
“Oh, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith.” Luther said. And it is.
I pray that we as members of the Body of Christ and the visible presence of the church in the world around us are strengthened by this act of forgiveness, that we are empowered to speak the truth and that we impact the world around us in amazing and transforming ways.
And may the peace of Christ, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.