My mother repeatedly drove home to me as a child the
importance of telling the truth. I have learned if I am not
honest with myself or true to myself, then it is hard for me to be
honest with others. The fourth step in Alcoholics Anonymous is
“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory” of ourselves. At
this step a high percentage of those in recovery drop out of the
program. They can’t get honest with themselves.
We “overhear” Jesus’ final discourse with his closest
friends. Jesus continues teaching to the very end. We are there
to learn about ourselves, to draw closer to the truth. Thomas and
Philip figure prominently in this scripture. At first pass we may
want to fall back on traditional characterizations of Thomas as
the doubting one and to interpret Jesus’ response to Philip as a
rebuke. By now we know that his response is a teaching tool.
Being honest with ourselves or humble as Jesus would
have us, we remain teachable. We have so much to understand
about ourselves and the ways of God in the world—so much
truth still to find. If Thomas and Philip, still hungering for the
word in Jesus’ final hours, do not ask these questions, what
would all of us have missed in Jesus’ answers?
How many instances in our school days did we hesitate to
raise our hand to ask a question and have another classmate ask
that very question? We looked around the room, and everyone
was taking notes. The notes I scribbled down as a result of
Philip’s and Thomas’s questions are these: “[You] will do greater
works than these,” and “I am the the way, and the truth, and
Who are these guys? Philip and Thomas are two disciples
honest enough to express doubts and to ask questions of Jesus.
May we be free to do likewise and be open to hear the answers
Jesus gave to them!
Father, may we always be of humble heart and know there is so much more to learn about the truth of your word. Amen.
Since the beginning, Israel’s faith has turned to God in situations of extreme trouble. In such turning, Israel has found God utterly reliable and able to rescue. Today’s psalm reading sounds those ancient cadences of reliability. The sermon in Acts 7 takes up those ancient cadences and places them on the lips and in the mouth of Stephen. Stephen’s preaching evokes hostility in his listeners. In the end, however, it is Stephen who knows the joy and well- being of life as a gift from God. Both the Gospel and epistle readings turn the faith of the psalm and drama of Stephen’s ending toward the concrete reality of the church. They tilt toward the need of a domesticated church to reengage its peculiar identity and its unusual mode of being. The language of “place” serves the practice of risky obedience.
• Read Acts 7:55-60. When have you experienced the Holy Spirit’s nudge telling you, “This is wrong”? What did you do?
• Read 1 Peter 2:2-10. How will we continue to drink of pure spiritual milk so we can repeatedly be called out of darkness into God’s light?
• Read Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16. What would it mean for you to
say to God, “My times are in your hand”?
• Read John 14:1-14. What tough faith questions have you asked Jesus? What was his response?
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