The Yellow Brick Road & The Spirit of Truth

yellow-brick-1024x576There is a story of a young lady who was swept up in a tornado, only to be placed down in a magical land called Oz. Her name was Dorothy and her dog’s name was Toto, and all she wanted to do was find her way home. As fortune would have it, getting home would mean journeying through this magical world of Oz along a yellow brick road, filled with munchkins, flying monkeys, witches, wizards, lions, scarecrows, and tin men, to name a few.

Getting through this journey was quite the trial, but finally…eventually… Dorothy would discover the secret to getting back home when she met Glinda, the good witch:

Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda: She wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
Scarecrow: What have you learned, Dorothy?
Dorothy: Well, I—I think that it, that it wasn’t enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em — and it’s that — if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?
Glinda: That’s all it is!
Scarecrow: But that’s so easy! I should’ve thought of it for you –
Tin Man: I should have felt it in my heart –
Glinda: No, she had to find it out for herself. Now those magic slippers will take you home in two seconds!
Dorothy: Oh! Toto too?
Glinda: Toto too.
Dorothy: Now?
Glinda: Whenever you wish.

Glinda: Then close your eyes and tap your heels together three times. And think to yourself, ‘There’s no place like home’.

 Dorothy was just picked up by a tornado. She walked and skipped for what seemed like miles on that yellow brick road, which we know is hard on the feet. She was chased by all sorts of crazy creatures including a very scary green witch! And after all of this, Glinda shares with her this little secret.

Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.

Dorothy can’t believe what she’s hearing.

Dorothy: I have?

Scarecrow, who has instantly changed from a dummy to now a smart aleck, pipes in.

Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?

But then wise, gentle, Glinda explains why.

Glinda: She wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

How many of us have had to learn something for ourselves at least once or twice in this world? Perhaps it was learning as a child that the stovetop was hot. Maybe we learned about the power of water when our basement flooded in our first home. Or we learned how far we can drive mom or dad crazy before they reached their boiling point? What has been a lesson that you learned for yourself?

 Whatever the lesson, Glinda is right in the fact that sometimes we simply need to learn something for ourselves. It’s the only way it sinks in. It’s the only way we appreciate it. It’s the only way we understand the truth within the lesson.

 The problem, however, is that as human beings, especially in an age of instant gratification, such self-learned lessons are often impatiently overlooked and underappreciated. Why go through failure and frustration when we can look up the lesson on the internet?

 Jesus didn’t live with google, or youtube, or even smart phones. He didn’t live in an age of cars, or planes, trains. There was no need for the ‘slow food’ movement because everything was comparably slow to our lives today.  Nevertheless, we read time and time again of the frustration of his disciples as they tried to figure out the mysteries of this man, and the teachings he espoused.  Jesus was constantly teaching, and he relied greatly on the practice of self discovery.

John 14:15-21

So what do we learn about this Advocate, or Spirit of truth that Jesus speaks of. Well, we learn that:

  1. God promises to abide in us. As children of God, we understand that we are of God, just as Christ is of God. Furthermore, Christ promises that the Spirit will be in us.
  2. The Spirit will be with us forever. God will give us ‘another Advocate’ (Holy Spirit) to be with us forever. ‘The Spirit of Truth’. While the physical, human presence of Christ may leave the disciples, the Spirit will remain within them and us.
  3. We will receive the Spirit because of our relationship with God. If we love God, we keep God’s commandmentsàGod will reveal God’s self to us. This means that we will continue to hear and learn from God throughout our lives.

 In his own way, Jesus shares with us the ‘Wizard of Oz’ lesson that Dorothy needed to learn. Stop looking outside of yourself for the Kingdom of God. The very Spirit of our Creator is within you!

Today we are not much different than the disciples. Perhaps the world moves much faster than it did in biblical Jerusalem. But the Good News today is the same: the very Spirit of God is within us as we follow the risen Christ.

Now, does it always ‘feel’ like the Spirit of God is within us, or our daily lives? No. There will be moments when we feel as if the Spirit is unknown or distant from us. There will be moments in our lives where the world does not function like that of being ‘filled with the Spirit.’ People will continue to disappoint us, and we will continue to disappoint others. But rest assured, the promise of Christ is just that: a promise.

What does it look like for us to live with the Spirit of Truth within us? How will this shape our relationships and our daily lives? How will this influence our agenda and priorities within the life of this congregation? How does this understanding change the way we view what happens in the world around us?

I have spent many years of my life in the woods enjoying a team building activity called ‘low ropes’; anyone experience this before? Well, the objective is simple enough: accomplish the task for each obstacle that is set before you. It could be a crossing over a void of space with only a rope hanging from a tree to use as a resource. It may mean attempting to balance a group of people on an extremely small block of wood. The task may be to traverse a metal cable that is strung between two trees.

Accomplishing the goal always seems simple at first, but it is harder than meets the eye. Many times I have stood back and watched various individuals and groups struggle to figure out the riddle to each puzzle which is the obstacle.

Here’s the thing: accomplishing the goal, yes, is a good thing. But more importantly is the process by which a group accomplishes the goal. Throughout the experience there will be a variety of attempts and failures, conversations, strategies, and frustration. Where we grow as a team, however, is in the process itself. This is one form of what is called experiential learning.

Perhaps, living with the Spirit of Truth within us, walking in the footsteps of Christ, is experiential learning. The end goal is worthy of envisioning, but the process by which we get there is just as, perhaps even more important. Perhaps we, too, can learn from Glinda and the yellow brick road.


Friends, today we celebrate the fact that the Spirit of Truth is within us as we seek to follow Christ in the world. May we be bold enough to experience God’s presence in our lives as we engage in our own experiential learning. And may our very lives reflect the joy and peace that comes with such understanding as we together realize God’s Kingdom here on earth.


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