Readings: Acts 2:14a, 36-41;1 Peter 1:17-23;Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17; Luke 24:13-35
Well now we are in the fourth week of lockdown although I hear her say it’s been six weeks really. That’s because when we first heard about it, Coronavirus; the message was that people over 70 and/or with underlying health conditions should keep away from others, and we did, we just cut down our social contact, shopping trips. It was about this time, you remember, it was all going on in China that our daughter Beth and eldest grandson David came up for a visit and we went out to local places and because there were warnings about the spread of Coronavirus we went to the woods and kept ourselves apart whenever we saw someone else walking BUT at that stage it was just a precaution and people were still talking to each other even if it was at a slight distance. We were still communicating face to face at that point and it was only when the ‘lockdown’ in Scotland was announced did not speaking to each other in the flesh so to speak was prohibited.
So initially communication wobbled we could phone, and most people did to family and close friends but face to face; well that took a lot of us a little longer to figure out. Now we are lucky that we have ‘smart’ phones and savvy children and even better our grandchildren whose live up to then was in the ‘ether’ anyway; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and snapchat to mention a few. In fact before the ‘lockdown’ we; that’s us anyway, used to moan a bit that their relationships were all virtual even romance was via the internet!
But then, well I see the upside, the benefits of being able to use Facebook video or Facetime and actually seeing our family and friends and even hold meetings, prayer groups and sharing Sunday services; the church buildings are empty but CHURCH is doing fine. I actually think that more people have taken part in worship whether that be on Sunday or at other times than ever crossed the threshold of our buildings. This says something profound I believe and that is we want to share our lives and experiences of God with our fellow humans but somethings sometimes get in the way. Being connected via the internet through ‘the cloud’ gives us freedom to worship in our own way but know that hundreds maybe thousands; no millions of us are reaching out, joining in prayer across the world – and somehow I strongly believe we will not go back to isolation in our own buildings but embrace the opportunity to join together week in week out in a common goal to share the Peace of God be united in prayer in such a way that the world will be turned upside down; Jesus’ death and resurrection did that 2000+ years ago and He has been doing it ever since.
One thing that was missing when we first started worship over the ‘air waves’ was music and singing, but it is an important part of our communication with God although the sharing of music and words has started to come in, it was so nice to be able to join in this past Sunday with the words being shown on screen with music to sing too. I certainly found myself singing along and felt that there must have been many more doing the same – being joined together in this virtual world.
One form of communication with both each other and certainly with God is silence and sometimes one of the hardest ways of communicating that we as humans in our modern, fast, full of noise society find to do. What it demands is to listen.
Perhaps silence is the part of patiently waiting for something to enter into our minds from God, sometimes waiting for some feeling or ‘word’ from someone else but in the silence we listen and that is what I would say, one, if not the most critical part of communication; to wait and listen. So much conflict or misunderstanding is caused by us not doing what is such a simple sounding task, but which for us we find incredibly hard, that is to be quite and listen, not just to one another, but to God and my view is that so much more would be accomplished if we could do this; a focus on God and then His Kingdom will come.
Now I truly believe that God is in all and every situation we and others find ourselves; and equally it might seem odd, but God does not just keep His communication for the chosen few or those who profess to be His followers; Christians. No; he talks to everybody and, I am assured by those that have gone out among the crowds at Music festivals and the like that God does speak to just about anybody, especially the ordinary people like you and me, but is not restricted to those who know him already.
Our Gospel reading was all about God communicating with His people but the disciples did not hear until Jesus gave a clear instruction in the way that only He would do; then they knew, and how did they know; On the road to Emmaus the two disciples said to one another did we not feel the burning in our hearts when He went through the scriptures. So for these two guys the communication was through feelings and that sensation which I do not think anyone can adequately describe but once you have experienced it is never forgotten.
Then of course they ‘dashed’; back to their brothers in Christ and shared this sensation and experience of being with Jesus. Maybe this feeling of the ‘inner burning’ of the heart is the difference between the knowledge of say, between knowing that a lemon taste is ‘sharp’ and tasting its sharpness. I am sure like all people who have tasted raw lemon the mere thought of tasting the lemon is enough to ‘draw’ your jaws together. Now, and I have probably cruelly done this to my own kids when they were small, if you ask someone who has never tasted a lemon to have a ‘suck’ on a piece of lemon they quite eagerly do it and then experience the sensation of the phrase ‘drawing your jaws together’ and once done always remembered. So too with the heart once you have felt something being placed on your heart you will always know, in the future that something has been placed on your heart and I would take a guess that the person putting something on your heart is God as a means of communicating to His people.
In conclusion I would really urge everyone to try out the following exercise now we are confined to home to allocate just 5 minutes when you can sit still and listen to God, no distractions; for a change turn off the internet gadgets, Radio, Television that seek our attention, and ask one question, nothing complex just the following simple question:
‘What promise do you have for me today?’