Sermon: To “know the truth”

Disciples seek truth and are made witnesses to truth

To their last day with Jesus on earth, the disciples are struggling with the truth of Jesus’ uprising. “Jesus, is this the time you’ll restore the kingdom?” they ask. Jesus answers, “It is not for you to know the times that God has set by God’s own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and will be my witnesses here in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samarian, and to the ends of the earth” Acts 1:6-8.

The disciples seek truth, struggle, with truth, and are witnesses to truth. It is never easy or complete. But it is what God sets before us in Jesus’ uprising.

Jesus is gone….yet here. God’s reign is already….yet not here. There are signs and witnesses to Jesus uprising and God’s reign on earth as in heaven. The Holy Spirit makes it possible to see and be these signs and witnesses to this unfolding truth.

As we celebrate the risen Christ of Easter and approach Pentecost, God’s word reminds and prepares us for the Holy Spirit’s empowering truth that we are witnesses to Jesus’ uprising.

Already before being crucified and raised from the dead, Jesus prayerfully prepared his disciples to be truth-inspired witnesses to God’s reign countering all that subverts God’s reign.  In the middle of John’s gospel Jesus prayerfully prepares his disciples for that purpose.  Hear Jesus’ words from John’s Gospel.

John 17:1-11

With these words Jesus prepares disciples to see and be God’s truth-seeking witnesses in the world. In Jesus uprising we come to “know in truth” and be witnesses. That truth is given to us in surprising places and ways.

To “know the truth” in Suriname and Jamaica

I have been deeply reminded of the truth of Jesus’ uprising throughout this Lent and Easter season. It is a truth profoundly revealed in Jamaica and Suriname over these past three weeks.

I can only share with you a few glimpses along the way with you this morning. As I arrived home less than 12 hours ago I am deeply aware of the great privilege of being in other places of God’s creation with God’s people. With that privilege comes great responsibility – a responsibility that is as overwhelming as it is energizing.  We are not only witnesses to God’s truth by embodying the peace of Christ to others, even more we are witnesses to Christ’s peace embodied in others. First a few glimpses from Suriname and then from the Just Peace gathering in Jamaica.

Suriname is unique in every way. Few people know where Suriname is – a little country on the north coast of South America with French Guinea to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south and the Caribbean region to the north. Suriname is a forgotten people and land, an exploited people and land, a resilient people and land.  While the official language us Dutch on a continent of Spanish and Portuguese. It was a Dutch colony for many years. It is a land of many peoples and languages and religions, especially from The Netherlands, India, China, Indonesia, and Africa. Many Indigenous peoples are the true natives to the region and the most endangered peoples.  There are also at least 6 groups that make up the Maroon peoples who are descendants of slaves. In the past plantations ruled the land. Today mining, development, and eco-tourism threatens the life of the people and land.

As you know, our connection comes through Dan Peplow and Sarah Augustine’s work there over the past 7 years with the Suriname Indigenous Health Fund. Our 5-person delegation was the first human rights focused effort growing out of Dan and Sarah’s ongoing presence in Suriname. Five of us were on this human rights delegation invited by Eric Wijngaarde and other Indigenous leaders in Suriname to help them gain greater visibility and voice for Indigenous peoples there. In addition to Dan Peplow and me the other three were Alvaro Baca, a Nicaraguan human rights attorney who began a human rights center at the University of Oklahoma Law School, Jacob Schiere, a Mennonite from The Netherlands, who has years of experience with Indigenous peoples in Honduras, Bolivia, Argentina, and Labrador, and Doug Hostetter, the Mennonite Central Committee liaison to the United Nations.

Water….gold mining nearby
Comassaras Kondre….by boat…village life….it takes a village to raise children….
Maka Kriki….
Hospitality and relationships

Pikin Poika village of Arawak peoples….communal land rights…
Edwin, assistant captain….thatched roof, dirt floor, open-walled dining room for meeting
Joan Vanderbosch, the captain in the hospital near us in Paramaribo

Hesdie Zamuel, Moravian seminary teacher from Indigenous group….

Just Peace – International Ecumenical Peace Conference, Kingston, Jamaica

What would Just Peace look like in Suriname? And around the world? It is a world where injustice is pervasive – especially the injustice of the Domination System that presumes to be “developed” and “civilized.”

We face a deep search for new paradigms for peace to live by —  a paradigm  for peace that throws off the paradigms of development and domination and rejects the paradigms of violence and war as the way to the false peace of the Domination System.

I was reminded in Suriname and in Jamaica the truth of John Paul Lederach’s peacebuilding   principle — that local people have the wisdom and resources to know what they need for life and what builds peace. Our task is to be in solidarity with them and support them to do what they already know and seek.

With that in mind, I share some glimpses of wisdom, inspiration, and vision from the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Kingston, Jamaica.

Fernando Enns igniting and holding the vision for Just Peace in the World Council of Churches
* WCC in Zimbabwe 1998
* Decade to Overcome Violence 2001-2010
* WCC in Puerto Alegre, Brazil 2006
* WCC IEPC in Kingston, Jamaica 2011
* WCC in Busan (border N &S Korea) 2013…Theme: God of life, lead us to justice and peace”

IEPC….1000 people more than 100 countries…global south…95 youth/young adults

13 Mennonites and more than 30 from Mennonite, Brethren and Quaker HPCs

1)      Peace in our communities

2)      Peace with the Earth

3)      Peace in the Marketplace

4)      Peace among the Peoples

Glimpses of people and process at IEPC

  1. Michael Lapsley, founding director Institute for Healing of Memories, South Africa
  2. Keynote address by Paul Ostreicher, Anglican priest/Quaker
    God sets before us life and death, chose life for children now and forever
    Clarion call to declare war illegal and immoral….wrong and doesn’t work
  3. Woman from Japan who is a survivor of Hiroshima (8)…husband died so video
  4. Tafua Lusama, Tevalu…8 islands, 12,000 people disappearing global warming
  5. Archbishop Awak from Bagdad….violence and war are not the answer
  6. Woman from the Congo…heart-breaking cry of the week against sexual violence in war
  7. LGBT people and workshop…biggest workshop I attended

Fernando Enns closing message
Church of the 21st century will be a Just Peace Church or it will cease to be the church

Human rights….sexual violence….indigenous peoples and violence and war

It is not an easy way…It is the right and faithful way forward…

Revelation on the Journey Home

On the 4th flight in a long journey home last night flying from Dallas to Seattle, I was overwhelmed with weariness and gratitude. I was deeply weary and grateful for every person and encounter of these three weeks in Jamaica and Suriname – well not for mosquitos!

I felt deep gratitude to be coming home –
Home to you this beloved community of God’s children of peace….
Home to family….beloved granddaughter whom I will see this afternoon…
Home with a renewed passion and vision for peace – a truly Just Peace!

With overwhelming gratitude I glanced out the window of the plane and was instantly awed by the glory of God in a spectacular sunset on the far horizon of the night sky.

– a horizon that encircles all God’s beloved earth and encompasses all Gods beloved children…

– a horizon that calls us give “glory to God and peace on earth” as witnesses to the truth of God’s reign in Jesus’ uprising.