“What is truth?” Pilate asks on that fateful day when he allows all the distracting voices of the world direct him to send Jesus to the cross.
The distractions of this world are loud and strong and they are multitude. In these days when we seek to care for one another and the world by separation and isolation, some of the distractions have disappeared. We don’t rush from one activity to the next. We don’t plan one visit with family and friends after another. The church does not have so many activities going on that the calendar has more ink on it than blank space.
Still there are distractions, of course. There are the constant reports of how many sick and how many dead.
And the worries that grow inside us There are the hopes of returning to what was. The list of things on our calendars we cannot do. There are political arguments. There are the worries at home about finances and the worries for our small businesses and the economic well-being of the world. There are all those things that keep us up at night. The CDC and the WHO say certain things as we come to understand more and more about the Corona virus, and others say the opposite. Depending on what news sources you trust, you can find all sorts of “truths.” And I spend much of my time trying to figure out who to trust.
And so we may ask with Pilate: “What is truth?”
Human truth is never 100% truth. We see through a glass darkly. Our own worries, fears, blindness, limited experience, desires and hopes color our world, direct our sight, translate all that is into the language that only we can speak. A friend recently posted an article about masks and handwashing and physical distancing that sounded absolutely factual, yet not a single thing in the article was true. The only source for the article was an author who, if you search for them, seems most likely to not exist at all. But the article said things that my friend wanted to believe, so she did, at least for a while. We see this in our world and perhaps, if we are honest, even in ourselves. We believe the easy answer that we want to believe because the challenge of the Truth is more than we can bear on our own.
Enter Jesus. Enter prayer. Enter faithful waiting on the Lord in patience to rise on wings like eagles.
Jesus stood before Pilate and was the Truth. But Pilate was distracted by all the world’s busy-ness. Prayer, if it is authentic, is not just telling God to fix what we want fixed, to cure those we love who are sick, or to help us to find happiness. Prayer is looking deeply at ourselves and discovering our false motivations that want to believe something other than the difficult and life-giving Truth of God. Prayer requires us to set aside all our distractions and spend time in the presence of the God who is Truth. Prayer calls us to be honest about who we are and our limitations. And prayer calls us to live out our lives in the messiness of a world of distractions grounded not in what we want but in God who is always beyond our understanding even as God is present in you and me and all around us.
There are plenty of quick fixes out there and plenty of easy answers. But there is really only one Truth. Dig deep. Pray hard. Courageously and unceasingly search your life and the world for what is true. Don’t settle for falsehood or answers that make you feel better. Pray. Pray with all that you are.
What is truth? The life God gives us in Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. It is right here, standing before us. Truth. It is a gift from God and yet it costs our lives. We cannot possess it; Truth possesses us. We receive it in God’s Grace and on God’s timetable. And may we work with all that we are to welcome it into our lives and to share it with others. For it is Good News for the world.
The Very Rev. Gary Barker