Can You Hear Me Now?

by | Apr 29, 2024 | Sermons | 0 comments

April 28, 2024

Scripture Reading: Acts 8:26-40

On our way back to Troy from Holmes county (Amish country) the other day, Mary Ann and I stopped by the Paradiso Cafe on the square in Piqua for lunch. Most of the tables were full but we did get a table and as luck would have it, I was in the direct line of view of a young mom and her 2-3 year old son. Just the two of them were sitting at a window table nearby, having their own mother/son outing. He seemed quite happy to have his mother’s full attention. He was working hard to eat his spaghetti with as much grace as any human can. They seemed to be thoroughly enjoying each other’s company in this moment of parental attention and intimacy.

My mind couldn’t help imaging all that had gone into making that little moment possible. Think about it! Here was a child who only had a relatively short number of months to learn all he needed to know to be ready for this special time with his mom. Think of how much he had learned about this radically different world in such a short time! From his language, to the skill of sitting on the chair, to how to behave in public, to what in the world to do with a fork and spaghetti! Think what the two of
them had likely been through together in those months!

How often she had whispered in his ear words of love and encouragement before he ever could speak! Think of the looks that they had exchanged and how good he was already about interpreting her moods, wishes, questions and hopes! I thought of how much preparation she had instilled in him already. Preparation for life and, I assume, preparation to live his own life, with his own personality but with some worthy values to start the journey!

I thought what a great plan this is for shaping and preparing brand new little people for life in an often difficult outside world. It actually is a great plan that succeeds an amazing percentage of the time even though it seems almost crazy to entrust such an enormous task to us frail human beings so prone to blunders and poor judgment!

And as I watched that mother and child, I couldn’t help thinking about the decision that was made somewhere in the halls of heaven by God when God was deciding what would be the plan when Jesus left the earth.

Think of it! Jesus had been with his followers longer than that mother had been with her son. All the lessons were, let us say, concrete! Jesus was actually physically present. They could touch him and hear him, and see him with their own eyes. They watched as people were physically changed because of what Jesus did. They could ask him questions and learn about God from his lips. And three years or so later, he was gone!

How could the people be taught now that the master-teacher was no longer with them? How would they now know the will of the Father? How would God communicate NOW with the people God loved? What would they do now with their questions? When they were afraid? When they had doubts? When they didn’t know which way to turn?

The master plan was the gift of the Holy Spirit who would not come into the world as a mother, or even as a human, but as an indwelling spirit who would take up residence with us and in us. The Holy Spirit would be a nurturing spirit like the best of mothers who could murmur and whisper in the ears of our hearts the unshakable love of God. This Spirit would be one who could tenderly guide and correct us and say quietly as Isaiah said hundreds of years ago: Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any longer, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be God’s gift – God’s substitute, if you will, for the actual physical life of Jesus. I wonder if you have given much thought to this Holy Spirit, this Inner Teacher of yours? I wonder if your spiritual life has included much attention to how this Teacher of yours is whispering in your ear the words of comfort and guidance that you need to hear?

Is there something of a relationship going on where you are the student and the Holy Spirit is the one whispering the truths that you need to hear? Or, is that voice speaking and you are not hearing? Is God saying to us: “Do you hear me now?”

It is my conviction that we, as human beings, are so drawn by things that are concrete and measurable that we fail to take advantage of this amazing resource of an inner life where the Holy Spirit becomes our Teacher. There is nothing wrong with written words in the Bible and other spiritual books. They are essential tools and resources. There is nothing wrong with preachers and teachers who give us insight on living the life God wants for us. We need those who are trained and who can offer us insights we would never have otherwise.

But, even with all of that, there is still this lingering question: You know what THEY SAY! But what do YOU SAY? You know what those people believe who claim authority in matters of faith and living the Christian life, but what about the authority within you! What about the word that you hear whispered in your ear? Have you heard from THAT AUTHORITY today?

Perhaps this sounds too Woo-Woo for you! I am the first to admit that there are those who claim too much when they say: “God told me….” But I am perhaps even more concerned when we go to the extreme on the other side and claim that “God never speaks to us any more!” The UCC church has one other motto than the one on the stone: “God is still speaking!”

I am more concerned that in the Beloved Community we learn together what it means to settle into an inner relationship with God in the person of the Holy Spirit and then begin to actually listen to that voice and respond to it like a child with a mother. We do learn together because it is the Beloved Community that will help us guard against excesses and hurtful errors. And, it is the Beloved Community that will nurse us back to health when we misunderstand the voice of the Spirit or even when we intentionally disregard it.

The life of the Spirit is our heritage – the gift of God to the people of God! May we learn to receive it and listen to that voice.

Pastor Don Crist