Sermons

Go, Hear (2 Samuel 13:1-10, John 20:21-22)

Joan MacPherson, October 15, 2017
Part of the Sunday series, preached at a Sunday Morning service

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Go, Hear
(2 Samuel 3:1-10; John 20:21-22)
We have been skipping quite quickly and with big jumps through the earliest of our scared stories this fall. We have been hearing how the holy mystery we call God has spoken in a variety of settings and different people with a consistent message of life, a consistent habit of inviting non pedigreed people to participate actively and a consistent call to be active in the world in the peculiar, love based, life creating, community shaping way of God. Our worship has sought to help us recognize the very real presence and call of God in our lives and to give us courage, hope, resources to respond - to both connect to the wonder and hope of God and to live differently and actively because of it. The sign post over here is a visual representation of that. The top sign is Go and each week we are adding on the “way” in which we are sent to go - to create, sacrifice, bless, speak, share, hear. These are specific kinds of responses to our community of hope’s mission to go, serve God’s world. They remind us that the life giving gifts of God are not offered to us for us to hoard but to heal us and then through us to heal others. Contemplation, reflection and quiet prayer are part of our Christian practice but they are not the end point. They shape and prepare us to be in the world, like Jesus was in the world. Go into the dark, Go to the hurting. Go the aching. Go with love. Go to bring life. Go and be part of God’s way of hope and peace. Go individually and as the church. Go. It’s active. It’s engaged. Go. Go ourselves. And go as a community of hope which exists and can go because caring people pledge and provide financial support for ministry.
Go. Engage and respond to the power and grace and light of God. How exciting and life giving is that? Really? Visionary of the stars and moon, you want to work through me and our community of hope? You are needing us? Oh my. You want us in your story? How cool is that?
But wait God, you say go. Go into the world with all of its fears, violence, pressures and competing stories. Go from the safe supporting spiritual connections with like minded people into the fullness and variety of creation? Where friends look askance at us because we go to church? Where the market economy doesn’t reward gentleness, generosity and compassion? Where the response to struggle is a flex of power not a vulnerable heart? Where scarcity and limits have louder voices then your way of abundance and generosity? Go there? Really? It was pointed out in a devotional I read this week, Political Action Committees don’t tremble in their boots when church folks hold up card board signs. So how do we do it God? This big work that you give to us? How do we do it? Connected to God, filled with God’s love and hope, aware of God is how we do it. Finding a way to hear the life transforming sacred story that is active in the midst of the other stories. Tuning our ears to receive the stories of hope and the guidance of the Holy and not let that get drowned out.
It takes intention to do that. The familiar sounds and the other voices get ingrained and we lose track of another possibility. That happened with Samuel right? He is a young boy who has been delivered to the temple to serve Eli. Eli maybe older and fading physically but Eli has power and is in charge. When Samuel hears a noise in the night he assumes it is Eli calling for him so he obediently runs to Eli. Here I am! What do you need? Nothing says Eli, I didn’t call you. Go back to sleep. Which Samuel does until he hears a voice again and goes through the same exchange. And it happens again. Samuel is awakened in the night and he hears what he expects to hear. He hears Eli call even though it wasn’t Eli calling. It was God but Samuel wasn’t expecting God or listening for God and when he heard God he assumed it was Eli. Why wouldn’t it be? Eli was there all the time. Eli had many needs. Samuel was used to the ways of Eli and tied in to support of Eli. Samuel was trained to listen for and hear Eli - so much so that he couldn’t hear God.
Hearing God wasn’t a natural first response for Samuel and I have a hunch it isn’t for many of us. We are so inundated with other voices that are loud and influential. They come at us all over the place. The ads for security systems. The lobbing of competing facebook posts. The person with power declaring their plan. The headline of sexual abuse or racial slur. The wind spreading destruction of fire and flood. The voices of fear, limit, control, scarcity inundate us. It is this reality that we are invited to go, hear. Go, listen for a different story. Go, tune in to grace and love. Go, intentionally seeking out the voice of God. It’s there but we need to seek it out in much the way we tune a particular radio station. It’s there but sometimes we need to turn off the tv in order to get that noise out of the way and hear a different story. Its there and its our work/gift to seek it out, to open or ears to what is life giving and to turn the volume down on what is numbing or increasing fear. This is not a call to denial of the world, it is a call to move in the world that is and in that reality be intentional about what we listen to and for. So that we hear the love that is all around. That we hear the voices of hope. That we hear God who is still speaking.
I have a story to share. I heard it in the wake of Charlottesville. So many stories of horror and racism (that we aren’t too ignore). In that mess I heard about Daryl Davis. Davis is an African American jazz musician. About 30 years he was playing in club and a white man started up a conversation about music. They chatted a bit and the white man’s friend elbowed his buddy and said, tell him, tell him you are in the Ku Klux Klan. There was 25 year old, black Daryl Davis and a white man 15 years his senior saying he was in the Klan. Davis made a decision in that moment. He stayed in the conversation. He decided that he was going to get to know this racist and he was going to enable the Klan member to get to know him. They talked. They got to know each other. They asked questions about each other. They had dialogue. Five months later the man quit the KKK and he turned his robe over to Davis. From that experience Davis began actively to go, hear. To hear the stories and connect with members of the KKK. He now has 200 robes that have been given to him. Two hundred men have left the klan following Davis hearing them and them hearing Davis.
There are so many voices clamoring for our attention. In the cacophony is the voice of life that God speaks, in a thousand tongues, in a host of languages, from some many different places. It’s there to heal, hold, transform. Go, hear. Amen.

Joan MacPherson
Main Street Congregational UCC
October 15, 2017

Note: This manuscript was prepared for oral delivery only.
It contains excerpted material not properly cited.
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