Rev. Dana’s Weekly Greeting, January 21, 2021
I’ve heard Wednesday’s Inauguration of President Biden described as a giant exhale, as though people were holding their breath. The days leading up to it were certainly tense times and it was good to see the day go off without further conflict. There was certainly a great deal of excitement and hope expressed for this new era that has begun. The President’s Inaugural Address was a call to unity, to come together as a nation and to come together with other nations to address the deep divides that have grown over the last number of years. As someone with a keen interest in the Kennedys and having read about the Kennedy presidency, I had a sense of that call to unity and overcoming division that characterized the time. As President Biden said, the divisions are not new, but have deepened and become more evident in recent years. One of the lines in his speech that resonated for me was the call to “reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.” It is part of what I have been wrestling with in the last few weeks particularly, the relationship between truth and facts. The concept of truth that is espoused despite being devoid or in contradiction to facts, has been front and center in American politics coming to a head in the last few months and weeks. At the same time, in our Tuesday night study of the Book of Revelation last week, it referred to living in a “post-truth society.” The idea is that it reflects a societal norm that had developed, saying that truth is subjective, open to interpretation and not requiring the support of fact-based evidence. All of this started me reflecting on truth, not just in the political and sociological sense, but also in terms of the relationship between truth and faith. What role does truth play in our faith?
In John’s gospel, when Jesus is before Pilate after his arrest, there is an exchange in which Pilate is questioning Jesus about the facts, trying to understand the charges brought against Jesus so as to judge. At the end of this exchange Pilate asks a question that continues to resonate down through the centuries, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). It is a question that we are asking today. Can truth exist without facts? What happens when facts are no longer necessary for something to be believed? When everyone is free to create their own truth? At the same time, faith is believing something that we cannot prove but we believe to be true. There is so much about God, about Jesus, that cannot be explained, for which we do not have irrefutable proof or evidence, but which is core to what we believe and how we live. So where is the line when it comes to the relationship between truth and faith, and how do we know if we have crossed it, only believing in what we want to believe, much like some of the rioters at the Capitol, without facts to back it up? I don’t have any easy answers to that question. I know that faith calls me to step outside of what I can prove, to believe in the mystery that is God, that is creation, and incarnation, and resurrection and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, all of which I know and believe to be true, but for which there are few hard facts. I also know interpretation means that how I understand these foundational truths may differ to some degree from others, but ultimately, they are some things that we as Christians can agree on as true, that are important to our faith and life.
As we try to discern truth in a world that has so many different shades or versions of, we are encouraged to seek God’s wisdom and guidance. As Jesus says as well in John’s gospel, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31b-32). I think part of our discernment around what is true is examining the intention behind what is being claimed. If ultimately truth comes from God, that truth should be in line with God’s intentions for the world, which are ultimately about restoration and building up community rather than tearing down or dividing people, since we are all made in God’s image. Does what is being proclaimed as truth unite or divide people, does it build up or tear down, is it inclusive or does it marginalize some? There are so many questions we could and should be asking when it comes to truth, especially living in a post-truth society. This reflection feels like it has more questions than answers, but perhaps that is the point. When it comes to truth, questions help us to reflect, to discern and to search for answers rather than accept what is said point-blank. I believe as long as we are searching, as long as we are open to exploring and growing in our understanding, as long as we are engaging with God and with others as part of that search, then we are on the right path. May the journey to understanding lead us deeper in faith, as we seek the truth of God.
This Week in Worship – 3rd Sunday after Epiphany
Reflection Question: What have you left behind, given up, or are being called to leave behind now, in answering the call to follow Jesus?
Prayer: God of salvation, the splendour of your glory dispels the darkness of earth, for in Christ we see the nearness of your kingdom. Now make us quick to follow him, and eager to proclaim the good news of the gospel. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
Opening Prayers (1997) alt.
Cycles of Prayer: Anglican Cycle of Prayer: Anglican Church of Bangladesh
Deanery Cycle: St. Andrew’s, Alliston and the Rev. Kim McArthur
Parish: Debbie Jeske; Barb Jones; Rick and Nancy Jones
Coldest Night of the Year
For some years, Trinity Church has supported Newmarket Inn from the Cold with our individual time, donations of clothing, and fundraising. “The Inn” is a special place, operating as an emergency shelter and social services hub for people experiencing homelessness in northern York Region and southern Simcoe County. Last year we raised money to sponsor two nights at “The Inn” which will be this coming Sunday and Monday, January 24 and 25.
Every year, Inn from the Cold holds a fundraiser called “Coldest Night of the Year”. People may volunteer to walk 2 or 5 kilometres, to raise funds in support of the Inn’s mission. The walk is virtual this year, as we cannot gather, but will be held around February 20. Several members of our own extended Trinity community are part of the team, Friday Night Lights and Friends – captained by Bill White, including Bonnie Connolly, Rev. Dana, Marlene Shruiff (Patti Kergon’s sister) and Ellen Cotton. You can join us! Check out the team link at https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/TeamFundraisingPage.aspx?teamID=932994&langPref=en-CA to join the team or donate and support this worthy cause.
Save the Date: Annual Vestry Meeting Sunday February 28, 1 pm – on Zoom. More details including the Vestry booklet will be shared in forthcoming weeks.
Tuesday January 26, 7:30 pm – our Zoom study of the Book of Revelation continues (homework read Revelation 19 and 20). All are welcome.
Wednesday January 27, 7:30 pm – Advisory Board Meeting on Zoom.