Rev. Brent Fugate is the Senior Pastor at Byfield Parish Church in Georgetown, MA.
Scripture: 1 John 5:9-13 (NRSV)
If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Reflection: Shared Truth
We live in a world with many competing truth claims. This has been the case for a while, but of late what is true has become an increasingly pressing issue. The world we live in is divided over what to believe. Even facts that used to be considered are no longer a given.
In our churches ongoing debates are taking place about what is true. These debates have real consequences for the choices people make. There is often a lack of agreement on topics such as masking, vaccinations, and when it is appropriate to return to in person worship. How individual people behave is based on what they believe to be true. Those that believe masks are unnecessary or even harmful are unlikely to wear them. Those that are convinced in-person worship cannot happen safely even when many have been vaccinated and appropriate precautions have been taken are unlikely to come to worship.
It is difficult to have a functional church community when there is a lack of agreement about what is true. The health of our churches will hinge on the extent to which the people that make them up can establish a foundation of truth on which to build our relationships with another. Eventually coronavirus will subside as a pressing issue. When this occurs churches will still need to establish what is true. Unity of action springs from unity of belief.
If a church is unified in its belief and action the world will take notice. This is especially the case going forward. We live in a moment in history with a stunning lack of unity. In the past year especially many families and friendships have been blown apart over one issue or another. Our friends and neighbors may not agree with what we believe is true, but if our churches are truly unified they will take notice nonetheless.
The authors of Scripture consistently pointed out that truth determined action, and shared truth was necessary for unity. In 1 John 5 verse 9 through 13 and other places they made it clear that the basic truth the church was built upon was the truth of Jesus Christ. It was the truth of Jesus that created the church. People from diverse ethnic backgrounds with competing value systems were brought together in a unified community. This didn’t happen cleanly or easily in the first century. The creation of one community out of many individuals hasn’t gotten any easier with time. The challenge is particularly great at present.
If we are to have any hope of being unified we must have a clear basis of truth. Without a firm foundation of shared truth the church will not look any different from the world. What is true about Jesus must be our starting point.
Dear Lord, be with us in a world of division. We live in a time where we are overwhelmed with competing truth claims in every area of life. Help us to know the truth so that we can live it out. Our desire is to bring about peace and justice in the world. We do not want to be want more voice sowing discord. Our tendency is to believe that which validates our desire, for this we repent. May your truth overcome the lies and half truths of this world. We ask the truth of Jesus would be present in us, that it would grow in our churches, and that the world would be changed by it. You are our Creator and Redeemer, show us the truth so that we can live it out.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those grieving for more than 578,000 dead due to the Covid-19 disease
- For the victims and their families of the 194 mass shootings already carried out in 2021, including 10 mass shootings over Mother's Day weekend
- For those grieving in Afghanistan where a bombing at a girls' school killed more than 80 and injured dozens more
- For those grieving for dozens killed in a stampede at a Jewish festival in Israel
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the delegates and clergy who attend the SNE's 2nd Annual Meeting on Saturday
- For the many speakers and musicians who shares thoughts and talents for the 2nd Annual Meeting
This Week in History:
May 15, 1942 (79 years ago) Seventeen eastern states begin rationing gasoline during World War II. As an effort to conserve rubber which had become scarce due to the war in the Pacific, rationing gasoline was considered a way to reduce the miles people would place on vehicles in order to reduce wear and tear on tires. One of many sacrifices Americans lived with during the war, the gasoline rationing effort would eventually spread to all 48 states by December of that year.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”