Vicar’s Reflection: 20 May 2018, PENTECOST Sunday
“When ...the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” Truth is a much-contested battleground. ‘Just give me the facts’ is what some would say. Famously Kellyanne Conway, President Trump’s spokesperson for a time, coined the phrase, ‘alternative facts’. Her interviewer Chuck Todd responded, "Look, alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods." Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth. An implication of this phrase from Jesus is that his disciples at that time had an incomplete understanding of his teachings and the meaning of his life; and that as their lives and as history unfolded, guided by the Holy Spirit they would grow to have a deeper understanding. This is not ‘alternative facts’ but deeper truth. The concept of the atom was first proposed by the ancient Greek philosopher Democritus (died 370 BC). It took many centuries of exploration and discovery before the deeper structures of matter were understood, a New Zealander Sir Ernest Rutherford playing a key part in this process. The Holy Spirit, whose coming is celebrated today, Pentecost Sunday, continues to guide the church into new areas of truth. Guided by the Spirit we know that slavery is wrong, that sexual and racial inequality is wrong, that discrimination against people because of sexual orientation is wrong. More positively the Spirit teaches us to nurture the qualities of love, justice, mercy, kindness and respect for all. These are the best alternatives and deepest truths.