1st Scripture Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-10 & Psalm 71
In this season following Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit to rest on the followers of Jesus so long ago, we reflect on the different ways God’s people experience the presence of Spirit in their lives.
The prophet Jeremiah, even as he was “only a boy” had a very strong sense of God’s presence in his life. He felt strongly directed, called, if you like, to be a voice for God – to proclaim God’s words to the people of Israel.
Our Bible, our scriptures, are the story thru the ages of humanity’s relationship with God. And other religions – well, their scriptures are the story of those people’s relationship with God as they see God.
We humans, created by Holy Mystery, have always been aware of some Divine presence – something bigger than ourselves – something that inspires awe, fear, and devotion. Some traditions go within to find that something, that layer of reality, while others look outside – beyond our temporal existence to find a God who is totally “other”.
What I remember from my classes in Montreal, was coming in to the class one day to see a huge pile of cardboard boxes stacked up at the front of the room. We students were invited to contemplate how big or small a box we would need to contain our own personal image of God. I have never since that day been able to think about or talk about God without acute awareness that I know of no box big enough to hold the God of my understanding. From this perspective, I can understand the Rev. Gretta Vosper’s reluctance to even limit this awesome mystery by giving it a name – God. Which is why you will often hear me refer to the “God of many names”. Words and language are essential to the way we humans communicate – but we must be very careful not to confuse the word we use to describe something with the thing itself. The word is merely a symbol – but if we are not careful it can become an idol.
Hymn #92 MV “Like a Rock”
2nd Scripture Readings: Hebrews 12:18-29 & Luke 13:10-17
This reading from Hebrews is very mystical – very esoteric – and likely to be dismissed as incomprehensible by many of us. But this line stood out for me: “See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking”…. The writer has been talking about doom and gloom and fire and darkness – consequences, it seems to me, of not paying attention to the spiritual direction being offered.
And who exactly is “the one who is speaking”? Sounds like another instance of Holy Spirit, or God, or the Divine trying to guide, or instruct or warn humans against behaviours that are not life-giving.
Friends, there is something, whether within or without that loves us enough to try to lead us out of the darkness, chaos and fear that can only end in disaster. Without this force for good, I fear, we would have destroyed ourselves long ago.
But it is this force for good that gives us hope! Jesus came to embody that Divine Love for us – to teach us that we must make choices every day about the way we shall live. We must choose in every moment to be a force for good, or a force for evil.
This beautiful story of his deep love for a crippled old woman, performing a miracle of healing for her, on the Sabbath, in the synagogue – a demonstration of Divine Love that could not be ignored. Seen by many, objected to by those whose laws were not about love, and deeply imprinted on the hearts and minds of his followers, this teaching has survived to instruct us here even today.
We are not without guidance and instruction as to what we shall do and how we shall live. We need to open our hearts and minds to hear the “still small voice” that speaks to all of us. It’s not that complicated: cease to do evil, choose to do good. If you’re not sure or confused – pray about it, ask yourself and then wait. You will be guided. Love one another as Jesus loves us. Listen, as Mary listened to the angel Gabriel, Listen as Abraham and Moses listened to the voice they knew as God or Yahwe, listen as Mary Magdalene listened to the risen Christ.
We ARE the Beloved. The presence is all around us. Have faith, children of God, believe what you have been shown to be true. Take time to be holy, to know the truth that will set you free. Embrace the holy mystery who is wholly Love.
Hymn # 161 MV “I have called you by your name”