Hearing the right voice
Dear Minster and Friends
“a shepherd comes through the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice and come to him; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. He walks ahead of them; and they follow him, for they recognise his voice.” – John 10:2-4
It is a small child’s trick to put their hands over their ears and declare loudly ‘I’m not listening’ – either in the playground or at home – to avoid scolding words or words that would contradict their reality. But as children grow to adults they begin to realise that blocking out everything all the time just won’t do, and they value being able to hear and speak, to communicate. It is one of the things we understand best about God is that He speaks. Prophets like Isaiah were quick to point out the contrast between the real God who communicates with his creation, and the mute dead idols. These god-constructs are merely invested with what ever we project onto them – they are essentially silent. A concrete wall echoes back what we speak to it, but that doesn’t mean it is communicating with us. Isaiah says that we have to prop-up these human-made deities, but that there is a God who speaks and makes things happen independently of us.
But Jesus showed us something more – the realisation that the God who speaks, speaks to us and speaks with us and through us to our generation. The apostle Paul gave instructions to the churches on how to handle prophecies, worship and prayer, how to test the voice of God, how to be sure that God had spoken and that we were neither misled or deluded but instructed and comforted. Jesus says that he is the shepherd who calls his sheep by name and leads them out. As the hymn by the Scot, Horatius Bonar beautifully paraphrased:
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Come unto me and rest;
lay down, thou weary one, lay down
thy head upon my breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was,
so weary, worn, and sad;
I found in him a resting place,
and he has made me glad.
So I wonder this week if we can still the other shrill voices, and focus on being those who listen and recognise quickly the voice of the Good Shepherd calling his sheep. If we listen and respond – liberation is guaranteed – ‘he will lead them out’. Our beautiful farm is designed to be a place where you can make the space – it is beautiful at this time of year, and there is a prayer shack, as well as other spaces you can use if the weather turns nasty! Sometimes we enjoy getting physical – cutting wood, planting stuff, gardening etc and this farm is available for this too.
Here are two suggestions – if you are an active kind of person, why not take a portion of scripture, one or two verses, and commit them to memory, and then go for a walk and chew them over in your mind, or take them with you mentally to the gym. Ask yourself – what did this mean to the original hearers, what relevance has this for my personal life, and what might consequences of this verse be for my world of work? If you are more reflective – perhaps get yourself a journal, and find a quiet place and time during the day where you can still your soul and listen, reflect and meditate upon these words. In either situation, pray that the Holy Spirit will help you not only to listen, but also to act. Lets talk our hands away from our ears at least once a day and really try to listen…because God speaks.
Pop up with Purpose Film night; tomorrow eve at 7:30pm in the Big barn. Everyone is welcome, there will be free popcorn and bring tissues!
Youth-led service; this Sunday from 6:30-8pm in the Big Barn. This is open to all but hosted by our young people.
Minster Women’s Gathering; Friday 12th May, 7:30pm. Earlybird rate of £12 ends this Sunday 30th– buy your tickets here: buytickets.at/minsterwomensgathering
Hearing the Voice of God is the sermon series which began last week and will be continuing over the next two months in our main Sunday morning service.
If you are up a bit earlier and want to join us for prayer at 9.45am you are most welcome.
Categories: Rector's Blog