Telling the Truth
Shakespeare’s tragic play King Lear ends with bodies littered across the stage. All of the main characters – King Lear himself, his three daughters, the Earl of Gloucester – die during the fifth and final act. The Duke of Albany, one of few who remain, says the following right before the curtain falls:
The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
Albany’s words are recounted in Frederick Buechner’s Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale. Though ostensibly about preaching, this is a book for anyone wondering what Christianity is all about. In a word, it’s a book about honesty – for speaking what you feel, not what you ought to say. Buechner makes an impassioned, artful argument for people of faith to eschew sentimentality or platitudes when talking about God and instead speak out of their own inner life about the truths of the Gospel which they have felt and experienced.
Have you ever taken the risk of sharing something to a friend or small group and received a canned, pithy response? You know exactly the danger Buechner warns against. Have you ever shared to listening, empathetic ears and heard in response truth which reflected the pain and pressures of everyday life? You know exactly why honesty is such a vital ingredient in Christian community.
I experienced the latter at the Prayer Night on Wednesday. After reflecting on areas of desolation and consolation in my life, I shared a particular question to a couple of friends that I hoped the Lord would address in our time of prayer. After a few moments of silence, they shared what they heard from God. I was reminded of God’s deepest desires for me and saw how God was at work in my story in a new way. I left the Parish House that evening filled with joy and gratitude.
God invites us to speak what we feel in our lives of prayer and be honest in our relationships with others. This is where God happens – through truthful and open sharing between each other.
Ps – Speaking of honest and heartfelt words, this Sunday we get to hear from the Rev. Sarah Smith, a deacon at Christ Church and fantastic bible teacher. Make sure you’re there on Sunday as we continue our sermon series through Hosea