Today’s Word from Pastor Tom Kidd…
After ten years in parish ministry I was inspired to take a study leave and pursue a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. When I say I was inspired I mean I left a growing parish ministry in Canada to again become a student (something I was never good at), in a field that I only had an elementary understanding of, for reasons I only realized years later. And so the story goes how I crammed a two-year program into three years… thesis, damned thesis. Anyway, for 27 years I functioned as a registered therapist as a part of parish ministry.
I mention this because despite myself, I learned a great deal, mostly about myself. I learned that despite not being a terrific student I love to learn. Hence why I continue, after 30 years, to meet with my Spiritual Director, Sister Kathleen. And why I am excited about registering for an online Master Class and taking my first class from the world-famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Sister Kathleen and Neil deGrasse… does this strike you as strange (forgive the play on words) bedfellows? (Okay, I feel a little bit icky about my use of language… obviously, not icky enough to change it though.) For what it’s worth I actually believe spirituality and mathematics meet, but that’s a conversation for another time.
Tyson maintains there are three kinds of truth: personal truth, political truth, and objective truth. The thing about objective/scientific truth is that it is true whether you believe it or not. It is true whether it conflicts with your personal truth or your political truth. The ability to discern between the three is, I believe, curiously, a spiritual gift. I say this because a key component to discerning truth is the openness to admit what we do not know. Certitude can be the enemy of truth, which can make for a challenging conversation if life must be constrained by simple black and white logic. Spirituality empowers us to not just tolerate ambiguity but to embrace it, to not be afraid of it.
In case you can’t tell I just “luuuuvvvvvv!” this topic. I love mystery. Especially mystery that becomes unraveled through the business of living life. Like God being incarnate not just in Jesus, but incarnate in all of life. All of it. Which means, as truth is discovered God is revealed. God is being revealed not just through religious/personal truth or through political truth but through all of objective scientific truth. God is being revealed through the splitting of an atom. Is that kind of a woo-woo thought for you?
“What is truth?” Pilate demanded of Jesus. Jesus would not answer. Pilate already knew the truth; Jesus was innocent of any crime. But despite his protestations of Jesus’ innocence, Pilate ultimately acquiesced and handed him over to the crowd for crucifixion. Pilate did so because his personal religion was political power and he could justify the death of an innocent (“I wash my hands of this man’s death”) because it strengthened his political position. Fundamental religion joined with political power always makes for a toxic brew. Always. In every age.
Pilate’s question is our question, “What is truth?” Personal Truth? I am a very flawed (sinful) individual. Political Truth? There are sometimes diﬃcult choices to be made but Jesus is Lord and Savior of the world and he hides my sins and the sins of the world and seeks our continued blessing. Objective Truth? We live in challenging and divisive days yet God is revealed through every act of selfless love we muster; through every decision that blesses the least among us; as well as through every scientific discovery we make. We just have to keep looking for God’s Kingdom that is already present. After all, what does it say about a God who dealt with our sin “Once for all” (Hebrews 9:26, 10:2,10), who sets us free to live fully by setting others free, unburdened by sin according to the same truth in Jesus?
Well, this is a truth to be discovered and lived out one day at a time. Think of it this way… we are not just one day closer to ending a pandemic but we are one day closer to ending a pandemic and seeing God more fully revealed. That is truth.
Pastor Tom Kidd