Trinity Sunday John 16_12-15 Explaining the truth
Here’s a little survival trick (get water out of mud through a sock)
Now I learnt about this while watching Bear Grill on ‘Man verses Wild’…watched that show? What’s Bear’s purpose? He wants to demonstrate and pass on some survival trips in the case that you may become lost or marooned on an isolated island or remote area in foreign country. With a few survival tips from Bear, we have a better than even chance of getting out of our situation alive; we have been equipped with the necessary knowledge, tools and skills to survive.
While survival training is on the extreme end of preparing for a holiday and I doubt anyone here intends to use this sort of skills. Yet it would be foolhardy if we thought we could go off on a trip across Central Australia, or to the Kimberly region, or to Cape York without first making some inquires and seeking advice on making the trip.
What are some of the things you would do or ask to be prepared? A good thing would be to talk with a local about what to expect, or at least converse with and seek tips from someone who has already made the trip; that’s what magazines and books are for. Even better than this, would be what…? To actually have a local guide with you; someone who let’s you take the trip, but who also guides and shows you all that is needed to ensure you make it safely. Now to have such a companion would be something special, we would enjoy all the remote locations in the security and knowledge that we are in safe hands. To do otherwise would be foolhardy.
What if I was to tell you that there are people among us who are taking a very dangerous journey without any preparation, having no skills or equipment or even considering the free offer of a guide for their journey…what would you say, they are foolhardy? What if I were to say that perhaps some of these ‘foolhardy’ included me or you …what would you say?
Since our baptism, we are all on a journey of faith; a journey that started at the font with the in pouring of the Holy Spirit, as John the Baptist said ‘I baptize you with water, but [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ And this journey of faith continues to this very day with the Spirit’s power, as Jesus promises ‘…the Spirit of truth will guide you…’
A journey in spirit and in truth that will take us to the greatest heights of human experience; pinnacles of joy and mountain top revelations of God’s love with vista’s of his grace spread out before us; where we echo out from the peaks, the words of today’s Psalm ‘O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!’ Then also, this journey of faith drags us down to the lowest of valleys, to the darkest of caverns where God’s presence has vanished, where it seems to be a place of devil’s; like howling hyenas, our troubles just wait to gobble us up and we can barely even stammer the words of Psalm 22 ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
Foolhardily we often take this journey of faith without any thought, preparation or guide. Each day, each rising of the sun, we step out into a dangerous journey without a thought, without a survival tool, skill or guide, and head off into the spiritual temptations and dangers, as if we were the Bear Grills of the spiritual world; as if we were lone survivors capable of enduring whatever comes before us. It may seem a little dramatised, a little over the top, but sadly it is more often the case.
Our journey of faith is not visible, nor the dangers seen, and so we think we are safe and are able to journey alone without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, without reading the bible, without prayer or without going to church to receive the sacrament where the Holy Spirit is given, as Jesus promised, and without starting the day in the name of the Triune God; the name in which God claimed us as his own and so protects us.
We live in a safe country physically, without wars or terrorist, we can journey to the Top End knowing we are not going to step on a land mine or be shot by a sniper. We convince ourselves then, that this safety transposes over to our spiritual journey. However, this is certainly not the case and never has been, the journey of faith is dangerous, as Jesus warned the 72 followers ‘Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.’
And even said evil attacks would come upon all who believe ‘Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man’ We cannot presume that that we, our husbands or wives, our family members, our brothers and sisters in Christ here at church, will remain safe and immune to spiritual danger; will not be attacked and fall for the devil’s lies or fall away from the faith.
Foolhardiness is to journey through remote areas of Australia without preparation, without the survival skills and without a guide. To journey in faith without the same sort of preparations, and having the Holy Spirit as our guide, is also foolhardiness and even more so as St Paul warns ‘fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.’ Jesus returned to the Father, not to leave us as shipwreck survivors, like lonely lost people in a wilderness, without hope or rescue, but in order that the Holy Spirit, the comforter, the Spirit of truth, would equip and prepare us for our journey.
In fact the Holy Spirit does more than just prepare us, he is our very own guide for our earthly journey of faith, who protects, leads, gathers and unites us to Jesus. He speaks the truth to us, about Jesus, about sin, about the world and about salvation, as Jesus said ‘But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.’ Everything that we need for salvation is given through the Spirit, who together with Jesus and the Father announces the victory Jesus won for us over sin, death and the devil on the cross.
This is the gospel, the truth that the Spirit conveys to us, to empower us and guide us in our journey; the very truth of the Spirit that also spoke through Paul when he wrote in Romans 5 ‘since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.’
As our Holy guide, the Spirit gives us all that is needed for this life’s journey, like faith itself, like discernment over false teachings, like power to overcome temptation, like authority to say no to sin and evil, like protection from evil, and like fire, which ignites hope and endurance in the face of adversity and suffering. Sometimes we may wonder why we should go to church, why we should regularly read the bible, receive the sacraments, be committed to daily devotions and pray, when after all, everything seems fine. Well, seasoned explorers and travelers will always tell you, it is precisely because you are prepared and are equipped that you don’t meet disaster and everything goes fine.
In the same way, as we remain in the word of God, in devotion and in prayer, and continue to partake of the sacraments, we receive the promised guidance and protection of the Spirit. It is precisely because we remain in the Spirit that no spiritual disasters have overcome us, as Jesus said ‘…apart from me you can do nothing.’ We can never be over prepared for our faith journey; we can never have ‘too much’ of the Spirit’s guidance, too much of the truth of the gospel, too much of the Spirit’s protection from evil. This is why the writer of the book of Hebrews warns ‘let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.’
Jesus, together with the Father, through the Spirit’s power has given us everything we need for our journey of faith, for life and for salvation. Let us rejoice in this gift and continue to seek and to receive the Spirit of truth and of life. For, as Jesus said ‘The Spirit will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.’