The Voice of the Lord - Pastor Kristy Hodson, MDiv
A Sermon given on 1/9/2021 at Stoneham Memorial SDA Church
By Pastor Kristy Hodson, MDiv
There is so much noise in the world today. We are being bombarded on every side—being told what to think and who to listen to. What voices fill your mind? What influences you? What should you be tuning into?
Our passage for today, gives us some clues. It is Psalm 29, a psalm of David. This is what it says:
1 Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. 4 The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. 5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. 7 The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. 8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. 11 The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.
We see in Psalm 29 the power of the voice of God—something that all heavenly and earthly audiences cannot deny. This is the voice that spoke the world into existence. It was there when the Spirit hovered over the waters at the beginning of time as this world knows it. The was there when the flood waters executed the judgement of God on his Creation—the humanity that destroyed the Earth long before it was washed clean in tumult. A humanity that has remained selfish and self-serving. One that takes pride in oppression and destruction.
But like the pride associated with the cedars of Lebanon in the days of David and beyond, it cannot stand when faced with the voice of God. This is the voice of Exodus 20:18-19, “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’
This voice is one that strikes fear in the hearts of those that do not know who God really is. They see a God of destruction and malice, blind to God’s true character of righteous justice, mercy, and love. So they listen to others speak for God—not able to hear the true voice for themselves. Wanting someone else to interpret for them. Seeking humanity over divinity.
We would do well not to limit God to the temples and churches we have created for ourselves. Those who see God seated on the throne in Heaven’s palace know that the only possible response to the all-encompassing divine Voice is to proclaim in worship: “Glory.” When we acknowledge God as rightful ruler of heaven and earth, we are given strength to make our way in this world with peace and wholeness. Let there be no mistake that God’s peace was not in the events of this week. Just because someone raises the Christian flag or a cross, it does not please God.
Throughout history, these Christian symbols have been harbingers of death and oppression. Yes, the group that stormed the Capitol waved “Jesus Saves” and “Jesus 2020” banners, but they also erected a noose and asked God to honor their violence and bigotry. This is the same violence and bigotry that has, sadly, been a part of the American Church since the days it uprooted and starved out the indigenous peoples of the land.
Whitewashing away our history, does not absolve us of our Christian duty to acknowledge the sins of our nation, our church, and ourselves. Only when we acknowledge them can be repent, asking God to soften our hearts and letting the Holy Spirit guide our actions and reframe our focus. We are tasked to be a light on a hill: bringers of peace, restorers of justice, standing against oppression wherever we find it—even in our own ranks and our own hearts.
The Jesus that the insurrectionists invoked is not the Jesus I know. They have made God in their own image while at the same time making a mere mortal and a form of government their god. We must speak up against when we see these things happen—especially when they claim to be following the voice of God.
Yes, this world is broken, and we are homesick for the world to come. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to do our part to bring about unity and equity and tear down oppressive systems today following the true example of Jesus.
And who is Jesus? Jesus is both the voice of God and the one God’s voice declared to be “My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus came to bring healing, salvation, and wholeness. He did not desire power or fame or even his own way. He heeded the voice of God and went to the cross for us. Not as some political performance, but as the voice of God crying out: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” A voice that calls us to repentance, to redirection, to love.
What voice are you listening to today? How much more does God have to do for you to hear and listen to the voice that mightily proclaims peace and wholeness? The voice over the waters and in the heavens? The voice calling you and me to honor God’s glory in our actions.
Join with me in praying for the strength to follow the call of Romans 12:21 today and every day: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” May the voice of God fill our hearts and minds as we put our trust in the Creator of the heavens and earth. --AMEN