"Get Up, Go, Say and Hear"
Tim Carson
Broadway Christian Church · Columbia, Missouri
The Worship of God · February 8, 2015
The Fifth Sunday of Epiphany
 
Litany
Adapted from Mark 1:29-39
 
People get sick for lots of reasons. You get sick. I get sick. We try to stay healthy.
But we are mortal, fragile, and breakable.
Those were exactly the people Jesus moved among, people just like us.
The gift of healing comes in lots of ways, and we are thankful for them all.
When Jesus shows up, he releases spirit, power, and energy.
It’s amazing what faith and belief can do.
Most of all, we know God is near.
Regardless of whether a cure comes, healing always does.
The Word become flesh draws near to our flesh, and we become one.
 
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen. Amen.
 
Pastoral Prayer
Terry Overfelt
 
God, in this mid-winter, we thank you for the light of your love. We get it, are inspired to get up in response, to go out into the world for you to say what it is you would have us speak and to hear of your great power and possibilities. God, in the slowness of our pace in winter, we ask that you help us to hear you by intently listening.
 
Do you hear what I hear?
 
A distant train whistle blows, and it signals the grief of terrible loss. Or a whistle that signals the arrival of necessary and desired goods. It is the train of freedom, and it is the train of imprisonment. We hear the whistle, and we do not know what it carries, but we know that you will be with us in the unloading of all it brings. And we will not grow faint when we hear it whistle in the wind. For you are the wind.
 
Do you hear what I hear?
 
An earth groaning with the pangs of growth that we cannot indefinitely sustain. An earth that sleeps in winter’s stillness. Winter that grips us in chilling discomfort and, simultaneously, in crystalline beauty. Make it our plan to take actions and make decisions that keep our earth home secured for generations, as it has been from the beginning of your creation. For you are the creator and sustainer.
 
Do you hear what I hear?
                                           
Our prayers, fervent prayers that wars and rumors of war will be quieted and replaced with songs of peace and anthems of goodness and light for people everywhere. Our prayers for healing and wholeness are simultaneously lifted with our prayers of gratitude and praise. For you are our God.
 
Everlasting God, you hold the whistle, the groans, and the prayers; and we trust in your power and love, as we pray…
 
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. They will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
 
The Scripture
Isaiah 40:21-31
 
Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.
 
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
 
This is the Word of the Lord for us today.
Thanks be to God.
 
The Message
Get Up, Go, Say and Hear
Tim Carson
 
Let us pray: And now, may the meditations of all of our hearts be sufficient before you, O God. Let us stand in your presence. Let us hear; let us understand, and let us move. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
 
“Have you heard that there is a way out of your misery?” asks the prophet Isaiah. Maybe you haven’t heard. The fact that he has to ask probably means that his reader needs to hear more. It is similar to the healing stories from the Gospels (Mark 1:29-39). “Have you heard that Jesus is in town, and the healing tap is open?” Maybe yes, or maybe no. But the first word is always hear. Have you heard?
 
The primary pronouncement in the Jewish faith, in the Shema is, “Hear, O Isreal, the Lord your God is one God.” The first act is hearing.
 
For some, the physical act of hearing is a challenge due to some hearing deficit. But even for those with no physical limitations, the act of hearing is not an easy one. I had a coach who always said to the team, as he was practicing them, “Now listen up, guys.” We weren’t listening but needed to. The first word is hear. Have you not heard?
 
But what do we need to hear? From Isaiah (40:28-31), we hear that God is the eternal creator that is all-knowing, never failing, ever empowering. This God will renew the power of those, who are weary and exhausted, until they walk and soar. We are to hear this and then know what we hear. We then hear stories from the Gospels and add them to our list – the God who heals.
 
Key words here – create, strengthen, heal. Just imagine if we really If we really hear these words, what a difference it will make.
 
 
[Click HERE to see the photo Tim now discusses in his sermon.]
 
This week, I was making calls at a hospital when I ran across a sign by a stairwell. It said: “Area of Refuge.” If anyone saw me standing in front of this sign, pondering and admiring it like a piece of art, they surely thought me touched in the head. “Is he confused? Does he need someone to help him?” When I took out my phone to take a picture, they probably thought I was a building inspector. “Does this fellow need some help? Is he confused? Does he need an escort to some other part of the hospital?”
 
What I pondered was something beyond the obvious meaning of the sign; this corridor led to a safe place, perhaps a secure area for storms. I wondered if it was apropos for the whole hospital, as a place of refuge against the ravages of illness.
 
And then my mind went beyond the hospital to the many places that might serve as a refuge. Imagine this sign posted in front of our churches, schools, clinics, pubs, locker rooms, stadiums. Imagine this sign posted at the city limits, as people drove into town. Or, imagine the sign at the welcome center driving into a new state, at the immigration service, the refugee camp, the community garden, the homeless shelter, the rehab center, the movie theater, the labyrinth, the therapist’s office, the monastery, the fishing pier, a youth group, and the family cabin at the lake. Area of Refuge!
 
Have you not known? Have you not heard? Imagine the sign, “Area of Refuge,” posted wherever the activity of the creating God takes place, in every place where the Spirit is working to strengthen and heal. Imagine people of faith, driven by love, wearing that sign like a crucifix, so that they become, in their very bodies, safe places of the Spirit’s healing activity.
 
Imagine that, like so many others, you have come to your limits and don’t know what direction to turn. You are at the end of your rope. You or one you love is suffering in mind, or body, or spirit. Then, as a little miracle, you hear something.
 
Perhaps, you hear the news that this wandering prophet known for his teaching and healing powers is staying in the house of Simon and Andrew. You know; down the street and to the left. Before you know it, that hearing has translated into walking. You don’t really know why it is, but your feet are taking you that very direction with little more than hope in your stride. Is there an answer there? What will I find inside? Will my hopes be dashed again?
 
There is a crowd around the house, and inside the house, people are tapping into his strong healing energy. Somehow, the Spirit is flowing through him, righting what’s been twisted, balancing the broken, and restoring faith and hope again. It is just flowing out of him into the people, who have contact with him.
 
What if I were to tell you that Simon’s house was an area of refuge? And what would you say if I told you that every house where healing and hope abides is an area of refuge? Is it possible that the Spirit of Christ can transform any and every place into exactly that, a refuge of the Spirit? Would you believe me if I told you that is where we are right now? What would you say to me when you hear me saying: “I expect that each and every person in this room, who is open to it, will realize, right now, some dimension of healing and restoration – whether it is in mind, body or spirit – simply because we have called upon the Spirit of Christ and invited it into our refuge. Would you believe me?
 
I want to invite you to make several moves – three, to be exact. I’m going to invite you, as we talk through this, to close your eyes, as needed, or not, as we take this journey. 
 
First, begin with that deep place inside you, the place that hopes that life could be more than it is now. Trust that yearning voice within you and listen to it, hear it, because you are destined for more. Sometimes, as the rabbis have said, we listen for the echo of a voice, something reverberating off the hard surfaces of life (The bet-kol: echo of a voice). Descend with your mind into your heart, to that place, and listen.
 
Then, from that deep place inside, recognize that the Lord is the everlasting God, the infinite God beyond all time and space that fills all time and space. You are a part of that infinity. Humbly place yourself before the mysterious presence of the universe. Lay in the grass and look at the clouds, or the starry night. Put yourself in the presence of the holy God.
 
And now, from your secret place, invite Christ into the space, your space, that we now inhabit. Place him at the table, or the seat beside you, or someplace invisible. Trust him with your cares, sorrows, perplexities, fears and doubt. Ask him to set you free. Open yourself to healing of your whole self. Join him in his sufferings and his passions. Sup with him at his table, witness the marks in his hands and side, and be hushed before the empty tomb. Bring Christ into your empty space.
 
Then, when you are ready, come back to the surface. You see; you have created the refuge of the Spirit for you and for anyone who draws near – whoever they are. If you will listen, really listen, you will hear the wind of the Spirit that has coursed through every time and place, the wind that fills your sails, transforms you and takes you where you need to go.
 
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
Well, you have now!
 
Thanks be to God! Amen.
                                              
The Benediction
Tim Carson
 
And now, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, the fellowship and communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen and Amen.

 

Last Published: February 10, 2015 7:20 PM