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February 12, 2013

Have you heard the way God talks?

— By The Rev. Dr.

Thea McKee

Bethany Presbyterian Church

The police answered, “Have you heard the way he talks? We’ve never heard anyone speak like this man.” The Pharisees said, “Are you carried away like the rest of the rabble?” John 7:46-47, The Message, Jeremiah 7:21-34, Psalm 78, Romans 4:13-25, John 7:37-52.

I was asked to write a Lenten devotion for a book and all of the lections for that day (March 5) deal with hearing the voice of God. I thought I would share that devotion as a way for us to focus on hearing the voice of God as we too walk this Lenten journey.

….Beginning with the passage in Jeremiah, God is speaking with such depth of emotion as the One recalls the disobedience of the people. In their empty and shallow performances of worship—the rituals, sacrifices, etc.—their hearts were nowhere to be found. “Truth has disappeared. There’s not a trace of it left in your mouths,” we hear in vs. 28b. God audaciously chastises the people to live into the Truth of their relationship: that God desires the whole of the people’s being and not the half-hearted attempts at “doing church.” They (as we today) think that if one were to perform the rituals of worship, then the obligation is complete and then God is shut away in a box until needed again. No other god spoke in such a manner, leaving the people to question, “Have you heard the way he talks….”

In Psalm 78 the text boldly proclaims, “…bend your ears to what I tell you. I’m chewing on the morsel of a proverb; I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths, Stories we heard from our fathers, counsel we learned at our mother’s knee. We’re not keeping this to ourselves; we’re passing it along to the next generation.” The hearer is called to “chew” on the truth—literally to dig deeper into the text which propels the hearer to grapple with the complexity of the truth as found in the morsel of wisdom. Do not emulate those who have gone before! The Almighty did indeed allow them to wallow in their disobedience; however, even then God called them to repatriation. That is the morsel of Wisdom to be heard; the truth to pass down through the ages. No other god spoke in such a manner, leaving the people to question, “Have you heard the way he talks….”

Then in Romans we are reminded anew of, “That famous promise God gave Abraham…If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract!” Paul reminds the readers that Yahweh is different from the other gods. The God of Abraham does not want people who are contractually obligated; indeed, the Almighty yearns to have the beloved hear his voice and trust that their relationship is strongest, “when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.” No other god spoke in such a manner, leaving the people to question, “Have you heard the way he talks….”

And finally, Jesus — the One who reminded the people that Yahweh had sent him to be the Living Water to a parched and thirsty world. This Jesus claimed that Living Waters would overflow for those who called upon his name and believed. No person had ever spoken like this Jesus; no person had made such an audacious statement; no person had taken a stand against the Chief Priests. No person had ever done so, but God had repeatedly declared to the people that their perfunctory rituals would not reunite them. Almighty God had spoken throughout time about the love He desired to lavish upon the people. God the Creator could not get the stubborn din of rebellion out of the hearts of the people—until the Son of man came to share the good news in a way that the people could finally hear and understand. And on this final climactic day of the Feast they heard Him speak with such authority, such wisdom and such boldness, that the church became divided. Some who heard anew the words of God claimed He was the Messiah. Others who refused to hear wanted Him arrested. The Truth which had been spoken from the dawn of the age by God, was now repeated by the Son, leaving the people to question, “Have you heard the way he talks….” During this Lenten journey, ask yourself, “Have I heard the way He talks,” and “am I ready to listen?”

Journey to Easter

Local religious leaders will present the Journey to Easter, an annual series leading to Easter Sunday.

Everyone is welcome to hear them at noon Wednesdays at local churches. A light lunch will be available after worship for $3.

The Rev. Thea McKee of Bethany Presbyterian Church will be the guest speaker today at St. Joseph Catholic Church.

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