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Desiring Truth

Psalm 51:1-12 and Quotes by James Joyce

March 17th, 2024

Fifth Sunday in Lent

10:30 a.m.

By Rev. Nicole M. Lamarche

Thank you again for being here on this Fifth Sunday of Lent, in what is in our tradition a chance to embark upon a wilderness journey that we have been on together. Over these weeks of Lenten wandering, we have explored the territory of anxiety and anger and racism and the wild beasts inside ourselves, just light topics and today we explore truth. 

I invite you now to take some deeper breaths, letting ourselves arrive as fully as we can, to tune into whatever word is meant for us today. 

And as you are moved, I invite you to join me in a spirit of prayer. 

God may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

Knowing the truth is liberating. This idea is a core teaching in the Christian tradition. And one of my favorite texts illuminating this concept is found in the Gospel of John, where we read “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And as you heard from the Psalm for this morning, the writer, the one crying out, believes that God the Creator desires truth -that we should care about the truth and setting things right and seeing things rightly as part of our spiritual path. In the teachings of the Gautama Buddha, we read, “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” 

Because the truth is liberating. 

But wow doesn’t it seem that in some places, the truth is quite literally unwelcome? Like if it were to show up in some places, it would be booed? Or poisoned? Or bombed? 

Because the truth is too hard sometimes, too hard to hear it, too hard to take it in, too uncomfortable, too tense, too loud, too different, to challenging. And sometimes we just can’t even see it. 

As James Joyce wrote, “Shut your eyes and see.” Which to me means we have to let go of seeing how we used to, in order see things anew. 

So what is the truth right now? Does it matter? Or are we too close to it, too near to something else to even know? With everyone doing their own research, what is the truth? 

Accepting what the algorithms deliver…limiting ourselves to certain stories, curating perspectives to confirm what we already know.

S. E. (Sr. Safiyyah) Jihad Levine is a Muslim Chaplain and the secretary of the Sunbury Islamic Center and she wrote a column earlier this year on truth telling in 2024. And how hard that has become in some places, especially for journalists. She wrote, “Stories and memes containing incitement and lies are shared millions of times online. Clicking a small “share” button is all it takes to slander a person. Deepfakes and AI complicate the problem. Fake news and alternative facts have become the accepted norm. It’s alarming that they can be weaponized to harm reputations and even endanger lives.” 

Levine shared that in her religious tradition the words of the Prophet Muhammed have this gem of a teaching, “Speak the truth even when it is bitter.” (Abu Dhar Ghifari) (1)

But in my experience, being able to do this is hard and requires lots of letting go. 

Speaking truth and living truth, being honest about the faults, about what is in the world around us. 

Letting go of seeing things the way we once did.

Letting go of thinking people will respond in a certain way.

Letting go of needing people to respond a certain way.

Letting go of outcomes and doing the truth, saying the truth, living your truth because you know it’s right not because you know where it will end up. 

Desiring truth means all kinds of letting go again and again and again.

Maybe letting go of the need for calm, a false exchange for the truth.

Aldous Huxley said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad.”

And I think there is a lot of truth to that.

There are lots of sides to things, but not all of them are true because the truth liberates. 

That’s one of the measures we have. Does it add freedom and possibilities? And here’s the other thing I wonder about truth. Maybe truth is one of the most important ways that love manifests among us. Love is the anchor of our faith and what if it has a connection to truth? What if desiring truth and living out of our truth is part of how we love?

Maybe you have read or follow Andrea Gibson, Colorado’s Poet Laureate. She has written openly and beautifully about all kinds of things including about her cancer diagnosis. She says that the poets taught her to trust her own voice and how to tell the truth in a way that would inspire action, she wrote,  “they taught me that being a poet isn’t so much about how we show up to the page but how we show up to the world.” 

When Andrea was nominated to be the Laureate she thought, “How can I accept a two-year position when I cannot promise I will live two years?” But she wrote that “no one can promise that. (And) I’ve been very public about my cancer journey not because I want people to know that I’m mortal, but because I so badly want others to know that they are. Knowing that I could die any day saved my life.”

What a freeing letting go.

In a short video she shared on Instagram Andrea Gibson told this story. She said, “I have been seeing a number of alternative doctors since my cancer diagnosis and I saw this one doctor who said, “The cancer thinks it’s a better version of you than you are. So you want to spend some time in your day telling it that You are the better version of it. And tell it to go.”

She said, “Oh wild I have been doing the opposite.  

“Oh really? What have you been doing?” the doctor said.

She said, “I have been trying to send the cancer love.” 

“Well,” the doctor said, “what a better way to love a thing than to tell it the truth.” 

Andrea goes on, “I think culturally we tend to think of love as this mushy passive thing, but when we think about it as the truth…as speaking the truth, as sharing the truth, as being truth in a way, it just resonates with me as exactly what love is.”

What if speaking the truth is love? And what if living each of our truths is love? And what if letting others live their truths is love? And letting go of everything else. Being honest about who we are and aren’t is love.

Knowing that we all arrive from different perspectives and places, we are going to take a few minutes to share as we are moved. What is truth to you? How do you live your personal truth? What can a faith community like ours do about protecting the truth? Does the truth matter?

And to you who are a part of our worship on the livestream, you are invited to journal or discuss with those in your home or ponder on these same questions.


Beloved of God, what if this ancient teaching is true? That desiring truth, that seeking it will free us, will help us to let go. There is no better way to love than to tell it the truth. May it be so. Amen.

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