Did You Hear What I Said?


John 16:12-15     The Message (MSG)

12-15 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I’ve said, ‘He takes from me and delivers to you.’


Christmas Carol –  Do you Hear What I hear?

Ministers Wonder – Did you hear what I said?

  • Each hears the same words, but receives different messages
    • experiences
    • Filters
    • Baggage
    • Education
    • Culture
    • Geographical region
    • Previous information
    • Prejudices

Then – when shared – the message received is altered – because

Who you are telling

Why you are telling

How you are telling

And your listeners hear your words,              and receive a different message


Each listener is in a different place – thus receives information where they are…

Oral Tradition –

The stories that are collected in our Bible were shared by word of mouth for years, decades, or even centuries before they were written down.

This process of telling and retelling these passages from the religious life of God’s people is called oral tradition.

When the stories began to be written down (3500 years ago) the stories were interpreted by the writers

Scribes wrote these stories onto scrolls for the priests  –

by the middle ages – monks were copying the Bible with quill and ink…

only so many could be completed… and only available to priests – who read and interpreted


1455 AD:    Gutenberg Invents the Printing Press; Books May Now be mass-Produced Instead of Individually Hand-Written. The First Book Ever Printed is Gutenberg’s Bible in Latin.

1516 AD: Erasmus Produces a Greek/Latin Parallel New Testament.Finally, the public had access to the Bible —

1517 – Martin Luther — Posted 95 Propositions for academic debate   concerning the practices of the church…

No reformer was more adept than Martin Luther at using the power of the press to spread his ideas. Between 1518 and 1525, Luther published more works than the next 17 most prolific reformers combined.

500 years ago –

Protested reformation  aimed initially at reforming the beliefs and      practices of the Roman Catholic Church

Failed to reform, but produced a split –                                                               A complete change in the CHURCH –                                                                     The Catholic Church did not DIE –                                                                       But the PROTESTANTs were born

Noted 21st Century writer – Phyllis Tickle –And Lay Eucharistic Minister in the Episcopal Church writer of the “EMERGING CHURCH”

  • She argued that Christianity is currently undergoing a vast upheaval —
  • AS HAS been the pattern – 500 years ago we had the REFORMATION
  • A historical pattern
  • Every 500 years or so, Christianity has gone through “an upheaval,” she said, because the old answer no longer holds true for a large number of people, and the church at large has to accommodate.
  • Five hundred years ago, the upheaval was the Reformation, when Protestantism was born. There are now more than 37,000 different denominations worldwide.
  • Five hundred years before the Reformation, in the eleventh century, the church went through the Great Schism – the church split into Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.
  • Five hundred years before that was the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, and 500 before that was a time scholars call the Great Transition, or Great Transformation.
  • Today’s shift, Tickle said, is something scholars call the Great Emergence.


In today’s scripture lesson, Jesus said                                                                     I still have many things to tell you,                                                                                 but you can’t handle them now.

But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth,                                             he will take you by the hand and guide                                                       you into all the truth there is.


Could it be that we are witnessing or participating in the Great Emergence – another 500 Year upheaval..?


The church is again      in an upheaval –

  • Numbers are down
  • People aren’t religious but spiritual
  • Traditions and beliefs are in question
  • Old ideas are being rejected      and new one’s emerging
  • Church is an old fashioned concept —

But why?

  • The Protestant Reformation was born from                                                 a PRINTING PRESS that gave people personal access to the Bible –
  • with their own understanding of scripture –

But what could be a factor in the present 500 year upheaval?


A major world and life changing invention —       again —                     may be the culprit –


Computers – Communications – Social Media

Today, we have information at our fingertips

When there is news –                                                                                                 it is world known in minutes

As Bob Dylan sang in the 60s –                                                                   The times they are a changing…      

And  the church again has to change with the times…

Generation X and Millennials   do not communicate the way                               we did 40 years ago…

Were not raised the same…

Going to church was not automatic

Religion came into question/suspicion



As the Catholic Church moved into the background during the Reformation –

The post Reformation church is losing its voice of authority –

The modern church  will not die… but like 500 years ago, it has moved into the background –

As the printing press opened Scripture to the Masses

Computer Technology is doing likewise..

    • Undermining fixed traditions
    • Subverting established authority
    • Leveling hierarchies
    • Pulling back the curtain on fear based                                      theology

This 500 year ROLLOVER reminds us

God can’t be limited by scripture or clergy                                                      but available to ALL PEOPLE


Jesus told his followers —

I have much more to tell you…   but you are not ready to hear it ….

Seminary –  Ministers are told we will only be able to preach or share a fraction of  what we learn…

Not everyone is ready to hear it yet

But as we ARE ready, Jesus said the spirit of truth will:

  • bring us into the light…
  • Will provide the information
  • Will light the path for us..

In other words…

When the spirit of truth comes,                                                                             the Spirit will guide us in the ways of truth…                                                    and give us what we need.                                                                                                        For that we are truly grateful….