The Sunday Sermon: Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost – September 10, 2017
Scripture: Psalm 33:1-9
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It Comes to Be
So, at another of our endings, we find ourselves at a new beginning. In the midst of all that swirling around us in our world, in our country, in our community, and in out lives. We begin again. As we move form the brunch table next door to the sanctuary for this hour, let’s begin in prayer:
Now listen for the word of God … Read Psalm 33:1-9
“God spoke it came to be …”
This past week, as we’ve been preparing not only for this new time of worship together, but for all the celebrations, recognitions, and new starts that this year’s Rally Day brings, and with that first part of verse nine in our Psalm on my heart, I’ve been wondering more deeply, how God speaks to us. How do we hear the Song that God sings to us and calls us to sing to the world? The Song that creates, that “causes life to be?”
With all that has been happening in our world in the past few weeks, I couldn’t help but bring 1 Kings, chapter 19 to mind. You know it. Elijah meets God at Mount Horeb in this passage and stands in the midst of “great winds, so strong that they split mountains and broke rocks.” After the winds, comes an earthquake, and after the earthquake, a fire.
We’ve had great winds, earthquakes and fire in our lives for the past two weeks. Beginning with the violent winds and rain of Hurricane Harvey and the fires across the Pacific Northwest after an unusually dry summer and record heat, to the most powerful earthquake to hit Mexico in a century, and ending with the even more violent winds and rains of Hurricane Irma just now making landfall in the United States after devastating many Caribbean islands, we’ve felt the power of nature and have wondered if God has been speaking in the violent winds, the raging fires, or the devastating earthquakes. The front page of the New York Times yesterday (did you see it?) was a photographic depiction of Elijah’s experience on Mount Horeb. But …
1 Kings tells us that God was, and is, not in the violent winds or the earthquake, or the fires, not in the destruction of the world. God’s voice comes after all the violence of our lives, sounding in the “still, small voice” that follows. God speaks through that voice, through the “sheer silence,” as our NRSV translates it. It’s that voice that creates. The voice of Psalm 33. A voice that is always speaking, even through the raging storms. It’s not a matter of if God will speak, but when we will hear it.
It is through that still small voice, Psalm 33 reminds us, that “it comes to be” … the world itself … comes to be, and all the intricate relationships that sustain and nurture life. It is not the violence of the world, natural or self-inflicted, but the “still, small voice of God” heard in the Song we, too, were created to sing, that orders and directs our lives in the midst of the chaos created by natural and human-made disasters. And as mundane as it may sound after our global devastations, it is that same voice that orders our ministries and our communal life yet another year as we celebrate this day of new beginnings, in the midst of all that is happening around us.
The problem is, that small voice, that “sheer silence,” is hard to hear! The sound of silence, amid the violent winds and earthquakes, and raging fires, requires some focus. It’s hard to hear … unless … you’re listening for it.
Five years ago I shared a wisdom story, as I am wont to do from time to time, that illustrates the difficulty of hearing what is among us. It’s a tale entitled The Cricket’s Story.
Two friends were walking down the sidewalk of a busy city street during rush hour one cold damp evening. As was always the case, there were all sorts of noises in the city: Car horns honking, feet shuffling, people talking, vendors shouting, brakes squealing, and bus engines roaring.
Amid all this noise and commotion, one of the friends stopped suddenly, turned to the other and asked, “Did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” the second responded. “I hear plenty, but … hear what?”
“I hear a cricket,” the first replied.
“No way,” the other responded again. “How could you possibly hear a cricket with all of this noise? You must be imagining it. Anyway, I’ve never even seen a cricket in the city.”
“No really, I hear a cricket. I’ll show you.”
And the first friend stopped for a moment. She listened again, and then led her friend across the street to a big cement planter with a tree in it. Pushing back some leaves she found a little brown cricket who only then, upon being discovered, stopped it’s chirping.
“That’s amazing!” said her friend. “ How in the world did you hear that? What’s your secret? You must have some sort of super-human hearing, or something.”
“No, my hearing is the same as yours,” the first woman replied. “There’s no secret. Watch, I’ll show you.” And she reached into her pocket, pulled out some loose change, and threw it on the sidewalk.
Amid all the noise of the city – car horns honking, feet shuffling, people talking, vendors shouting, brakes squealing, and bus engines roaring – everyone within thirty feet turned their head to see where the sound of the money was coming from.
“You see,” she said. “It’s all a matter of what you are listening for.”
And so, this past week and in the weeks ahead, we’ve been listening and will be listening, for our song, for this congregation in this time. Where will we hear God’s voice? We have new children in our classrooms, new teachers, too. We have new curriculum and studies to undertake. We have new student ministers with us, two voices this year in Ashia and Shawn. Where will we hear God’s voice this year? And then what will come to be? Where are our treasures and how will we use them? Let’s start right here and now.
Look around you and search within you. Our song is here and our treasures are here. They are us. We are our crickets!! One another, the love of Christ entrusted to us, and this community we call Pewee Valley Presbyterian. These are our “crickets.” Do we hear them, do you hear yourself, do you hear God speaking through the busyness of your life beyond this campus? Our song is not in the thunder and fire and violent wind of our daily lives. It is among us here and within us as we leave hear, being whispered every second we are together and every moment we are not.
Do we hear it? Soft as a cricket’s chirp in a busy city? Do you hear the song of your friends here and do you feel the love of God in your lives “out there?” In the midst of all the other noise – earth, wind, and fire? The little cricket in our story didn’t, and the song of our lives doesn’t, silence the honking horn or the squealing brakes, the hurricane winds or the crumbling earthquakes. The shouts and shuffling/winds and rain rarely, if ever, stop when a cricket sings. But knowing that the cricket is there, being aware of the sound of something different that calls us to pay attention to what’s most important, does give us a reason to try and quiet the noise that seeks to drown our trust and our hope and to persevere. It does give us a reason to calm our spirits, to hear the song, and to sing it new every day.
New songs this year, coming to be, as we begin again here. New songs this year, coming to be, as we take our Love into the world.
(Let us) sing the mighty power of God that made the mountains rise
That spread the slowing seas abroad and built the lofty skies
… In the still, small voice that is our song.
Reverend Joel Weible, Pastor / Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church / September 10, 2017