When we are closed up to everything sometimes an interruption helps us to hear. This is a story of the God who interrupts us so we can hear the comfort we need. Preached @ St. Peter’s Comox Feb. 4, 2018.
I would wager you know that place where someone else is speaking and you could care less. There is a place where they drone on but your heart and mind are closed. A place where you hear only to question and critique inwardly. You know what you’re about, you know your agenda. You hear but you aren’t listening.
Sometimes we shut up because of certainty, sometimes fatigue, sometimes anger, sometimes pain, something inside is screaming louder than the voice outside. This can happen with our neighbour. This can happen with God.
This passage in Isaiah follows God trying to deliver a message of consolation. At the end of a book naming the destruction and distress of God’s people in their alienation from God and from his plan we receive the great prophet work many of us know in our hearts “Comfort, Comfort ye my people”. God is coming to nurture them like a shepherd, the Lord is coming to their distress.
The comfort being promised is triumphant, it’s loud, its powerful, its deep. But we can’t always here that. Sometimes when someone tries to speak comfort we say “yeah, sure, go away, let me suffer, let me brood”
And just when I find my heart wants to go to that place when I read this passage his nurturing arm stretches out…and slaps me in the face.
He interrupts our cynicism, he interrupts the impulse within Israel not to hear the comfort he offers, he reaches into it and says:
have you not heard? Have you not been told from the beginning? Have you not understood from the beginning?
I was not there God.
OF COURSE NOT. I WAS.
God is enthroned above all things. We are like grasshoppers to him. The heavens that we cannot even reach he stretches out as his dwelling.
What we think is power, the powers of this world that we fear, he shows to be empty, to be no power.
They may try to put themselves in my place but they have no idea what power is.
Look at the heavens, life your eyes and see and expanding and unfathomable space with planets and stars and asteroid belts and black holes, and emptiness and fullness. All of it is under his authority, he sees all of it, all of the things we can not even imagine he knows.
So how can we imagine that he does not know what is happening with us? How can we imagine that he does not know the weeping of the people he calls his own? How can Judah imagine he doesn’t know their exile? He knows us, everything about us, he knows the stories that we tell, he knows the stories that we do not.
Do not rely on your own strength for it will fail, for even if you are young you wikk grow weary, you will collapse. Give your hope to God and it shall rise to meet him. Receive your strength from him and you will fly on the wings of an eagle to the throne of the universe, you will be lifted up into the presence of the one true king, you will overcome in ways that you can not imagine.
He interrupts our doubt, he interrupts our being closed that we might be opened, he slaps us around that we might be vulnerable, for in the open heart he can and does come with power.
I know we don’t really do pre-lent at St. Peters but I would encourage you, as we prepare to walk together in expectation and discipline that we walk together with God this lent in vulnerability. I hope that we might open our hearts and our lives to him and let him reign over anything that we let remain hidden. Ash Wednesday is only a little over a week away.
Jesus interrupts the pattern of the religious life of Galilee. He enters into the culture of the synagogue and teaches with authority. He sets things on their head. His entry casts out demons and sets people free to live.
Simon’s Mother in law was sick with a fever. All it took was being raised up by Jesus’s hand, being lifted up, and the fever was released. She was healed and immediately waited on these five men who came into her house.
People came to Jesus to be set free from demons, to have those they loved healed and he did release them there in Simon’s Mother in laws house. Late into the night he met them with compassion, the light of the world met them in darkness.
You will have an opportunity this morning to be anointed with oil for healing, an opportunity to bring your illness and darkness, to bring what oppresses you and the stories you do not tell before God. Lift them up in your heart as you come, be open to being lifted up on the wings of eagles, open to be given energy and renewal to serve.
But Jesus did not come only to heal and to cast out demons, he had a mission that meant he could not stay stationary at this house, and so early in the morning he resolved to move on, to continue with his mission to proclaim repentance and to be God’s presence to the children of Israel, to be the King they needed to meet to understand.
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