Sermons

20 Pentecost 2018 Proper 22

The story is told about the fellow who decided he wanted to try ice fishing. So he went out bought all new equipment and with all his equipment he went to a place where he knew there was lots of good sturdy ice and began to cut a hole . Just as he began to cut the ice he heard a loud voice say, “There are no fish under the ice.” Amazed at hearing a voice speaking to him he thought maybe it was God. He hurriedly pulled his equipment together and began to walk off of the ice, but then he thought to himself that he probably imagined hearing the voice so he stopped and set down his equipment and started drilling a hole in another spot. Again he heard the voice say, “There are no fish under the ice.” He stopped drilling and asked in wonder, “Is that you God?” To which he heard the reply, “No, I am the manager of this ice skating rink.”

Throughout history people have wanted to hear from God; they have wanted to hear God’s voice. Religion is wired into humanity’s DNA. Every culture has a religion within it.  In fact, historians are only able to really understand a given society by understanding their religion.  In ancient Greece no expedition was undertaken, no colony sent out, and no affair of any distinguished individuals went on without the sanction of the oracle at Delphi.  In all the ancient civilizations, people wanted to know what God had to say about whether or not a king should go to battle or ally the nation with another.  Was God on our side or on their side?  And not only was direction from God important for big decisions, God or the gods were the only ones who knew for certain what was going to happen after one died. Therefore communication with God has always been important.

Humans want to communicate with God. That is why you and I are here. We want to hear from God; we want to feel God’s presence. People want to know God and what he is like and whether he thinks about us and about what we are doing and about what is going to happen to us after we die. These are the questions humanity has been asking God all of humanity’s history long. Apparently there is a hunger in our human souls; a hunger in our spirits to know God and to know his presence.

In our reading from the Letter to the Hebrews we hear, “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, who he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being. “

God did speak and explain his ways to humanity through his prophets for thousands of years. But since the time of Jesus he has spoken through His Son. But how does God speak to us by His Son Jesus? We just heard that Jesus is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being!

So since Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s very being how he lived and reacted in his life here on earth answers many of our questions about God. We were able to see Jesus in action and thus we were able to see God in action. Through the life of Jesus we can know what God is like and what God thinks about us. And now we know whether God cares about us and whether he cares how we live and we know now what happens to us when we die. These questions are all answered through the life and teachings of Jesus. Through Jesus we see that God is not a vengeful, cruel or angry God. We also see that God is not like a benevolent grandfather. We see Jesus was kind and compassionate and cared for the humble and encouraged those who were truly searching for God. At the same time, he had no patience for people who were self-righteous or for people who would not repent from their selfish ways so we know God is like that. And we know that indeed God does care about how we live! God through Jesus shows us a whole new way of living. Jesus shows us how to have new life through faith in Him and that that new life is lived by serving others, giving and caring about others.  And we now know what happens after we die and we know how to get to God.  Jesus told us that he was the way the truth and the life and that no one can come to the Father, to God except through him. People cannot make it to God simply doing the best they can and hoping for the best. Jesus taught us that we need to believe in him and to trust in what Jesus did for us on the cross. And that is the only way to make it to God after we die.  So through the life and teachings of Jesus we see the answers to the most important questions humanity has ever had about God.

God has spoken to us through the life of Jesus but the fact is we still long to hear from God personally, individually. That hunger in our souls to know God and feel his presence goes beyond simple theological knowledge. And so although we can know a great deal about God through knowing and studying the life and teachings of Jesus yet God has also provided ways that we can learn to experience his presence in our lives. He has provided ways for us to communicate with Him, the Almighty Creator of the world.

Although most of us will never audibly hear God’s voice in this life anyway, we can still grow to sense what he is saying to us as we pray and then listen in silence. As we read Holy Scripture and then take time to think about what we have read and how it might apply to our own lives we can sense God’s direction and leading. Many times we can feel his presence when we sit in silence or stop and observe the beauty of creation and nature around us. It seems as though the common thread in all these ways of connecting or communing with God is the keeping still part, the getting quiet part, the learning to listen part.  Scripture says to us, “Be still and know that I am God.”  The difficult part for most of us is learning to be still. But if we really do want to hear God and commune with him it is imperative to set aside time in our busy lives to be still. We need to set aside to focus and be still and reflect.

The odds are that most of us will not hear God audibly talk to us even if we try to drill a hole in the ice in an ice skating rink. Yet God does still speak to us today. He speaks to us about himself as we consider the character and teachings of Jesus. And we can also each hear from him during our prayers, or through contemplation of the Scriptures, or through being alone with him. So let us each try this week to sense what he wants to say to us during our prayer time and let us be led as we consider his Holy Word and let us feel his great love and presence as we work at becoming still before him. Amen.