Sermon originally presented May 20, 1962 at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Edgartown, Massachusetts. Composed by Rev. Henry L. Bird using (then) year A of the 1928 BCP Lectionary. Transcribed by Asher Barreras (C) 2017 Based on the Gospel of John Chapter 16: (v):1-16, which follows from the KJV:
To be read during Morning Prayer, 4 Easter, May 7, 2017 at Saint John Episcopal Church, Tulare, CA:
Sermon Sunday, May 20, 1962 4th after Easter
John 16:13 “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth”
“Howbeit, when he, the spirit of truth, is come he will guide you into all truth.”
Tending to “label” our period of history
“The Age of World Conflict” College History Course
“The Age of Anxiety”
“The Age of Technology”
“The Space Age”
I would like to add another that might be worth thinking about
Deluge of Words all competing to be
We’re pulled in every possible direction
until, it’s quite possible, we don’t know where to stand
We don’t know
We find ourselves without standards
Without any concrete aims or goal or purpose in life
Guided purely by the latest word that appeals to us
be it “Anti Communism”
Parents are bombarded by advice from all kinds of sources
Magazines + newspaper articles
often with the sad result that parents just give up and don’t
And so it goes
In the “Age of Words”
instead of clarification
In the midst of all this
an answer a guide
seriously look at it
1. The Holy Scriptures
2. God in Christ
and THE Life
and this what our N.T. Lesson
pointing to today
and basically ONE only
In this “Age of Words”
by which one’s life should be guided
“Howbeit, when he,
the Spirit of truth is
come he will guide you into all truth”
As said often before
a disembodied “GHOST”
but a means of describing the very
power that comes as one responds to the call
claim of Jesus Christ upon one’s life
As we know the Bible word for Spirit means the same as wind or breath
necessary for life
source of energy
oxygen that the mountain climber carries with him
vital for conversion
of food into actual energy
The Spirit vital for conversion of Christian into the
of Christian living!
Our Lord knew this
Knew the vital need of the Spirit
and teaches his disciples
“When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth”
The Spirit of
Pilate at our Lord’s trial cynically asked
And today an awful lost of Pilates in this world
We think that “truth” is relative
Anthropology course in college compared the moral standards of various forms of
standards purely relative to the culture
fine for S.A. Indians to have human sacrifice
fine for South Sea Islanders to hunt heads
fine for street gang to “rumble”
These the relative standards of the cultures
Really doesn’t make any difference what a person lives by
That’s his business
What difference does it make if legislators get a cut on illegal gambling?
What difference does it make if tax money given away on overpriced land taking deal?
What difference does it make if public garage built fraudulently
What difference if cut a few corners on income tax return?
Anti Communist program presented a few weeks ago
doesn’t matter if facts are twisted
doesn’t matter if procedure questionable
doesn’t matter if innuendo and suspicion used
An article in paper a week or two ago about Cleveland people resistant to bringing in
(This unimportant they don’t have atomic bomb!)
An article (AP) in Friday’s paper about Barbed wire wall in Hong Kong (
communists) to keep refugees
will take any appreciable number of them!”
Our own immediate comfort and security come first
Truth is relative
Obviously to some extent it is a fact that what is true for one
necessarily so for another
All have different gifts
subject to basic natural laws
want to make it
but something we are all subject to whether we like it or not!
= poison truth
one stops = relative
and this AA adamant on an absolute!
Now the word “TRUTH”
mean factual accuracy
and it is important that
in this day of profusion of words and confusion
factual accuracy a vital necessity
It is not easy to be “objective” for we all color our approach to things
but the Christian of all people
Should be uncompromising in seeking factual truth
for it can only be
consistent with the Gospel
of the crucified and risen Lord
we must be very careful
to make factual truth
then, we’ll soon find, our so called “objectivity” colored by some other standard a lot
less likely to come up with the actual facts
and as St. Paul reminds us
are not enough
“If I understand all Knowledge
but have not
I am nothing” (1Cor. 13)
factual truth in and of itself not enough
“Truth in the intellectual sense is far from being all that man needs; the primary thing is
not to understand and make sense of the universe, but to know God and live a good life”
(Richardson W’d b’k of the Bible p.270)
Not really matter how critically, historically, intellectually one understand the Bible etc.
but has one allowed Spirit of Christ to fill his life??
go beyond the purely factual
and this brings us to the Biblical meaning of the word
In the Bible truth seems essentially to indicate
we might almost say “divine stubbornness”
a persistent, consistent heading for the mark!
truth = being on target
and the target = Jesus Christ
the utmost in truth, for the Christian,
is seen as God’s faithfulness
as revealed in
We want to know what the Spirit of Truth is
we seek it in Jesus Christ
and find not a living up to moral standards
(though that happens)
not an intellectual group of facts
(though it is there too)
but rather a quality of life
life lived in relationship
to God and man
truth NOT a “spectator sport” but joining the team
risking one’s life
(Thanksgiving for Birth of a Child marriage)
Bishop Pike once wrote a book
an intellectual exercise
and, praise God, this power to live the truth is ours
in the promise of life in Christ
“Howbeit when he the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth.”
Humbly submitted for your perusal,
W. Brewster Bird,
Jr. Warden, Saint John Episcopal Church
Compare the above with todays Gospel and Scriptural readings:
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; *
I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.
3 He revives my soul *
and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.
4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil; *
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; *
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.
6 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, *
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
1 Peter 2:19-25
19For it is to your credit if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, where is the credit in that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.
22 ‘He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.’
23When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
1‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ 6Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
The Old Testament, New Testament and Gospels readings are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The Collects, Psalms and Canticles are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.