Hebrew Bible Reading: Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace….
Contemporary Reading: When I say I’m a Christian by Carol Wimmer (Altered Version)
When I say “I’m a Christian” I’m not shouting “I’m clean living.’ I’m whispering, “I was lost, now I’m found and forgiven.”
When I say “I’m a Christian” I don’t speak of this with pride. I’m confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.
When I say “I’m a Christian” I’m not trying to be strong. I’m professing that I’m weak and need His strength to carry on.
When I say “I’m a Christian” I’m not bragging of success. I’m admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.
When I say “I’m a Christian” I’m not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I am worth it.
When I say “I’m a Christian” I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of heartaches so I call upon his name.
Call to Worship:
Leader: Today, Lord we are accountable.
Parents: For to us a child is born…
Leader: God, you give us new life and wisdom. You instruct us and correct us. And as you’ve taught us, we teach
Children: And someday soon responsibility will fall on my shoulders.
Parents: But today, we are accountable.
Church, I have spent the last few weeks trying to think about what God wants to share with us about Prayer. I was ready to talk about one style of prayer…
Physical prayer. It was going to be an interesting preaching, I think! All about how we can use our bodies to talk to God. I wanted to have Hermana Jedxenia and a couple of other people in the congregation help me demonstrate ways that we can pray, not just with words and emotions or thoughts, but with our bodies.
But there was a picture in my heart that would not leave me alone. The image of a person standing in a doorway blocking one side from the other. Perspective.
Another picture floated into my heart. The picture of a person at the top of a high precipice reaching out to a person on a similar precipice on the other side of a steep drop. Perspective.
Both images are the same. But they look and feel so different. One seems to be a person blocking the way from one room into another. The other is a person reaching out trying to get from high ground to higher ground with a steep fall between the two.
Let us pray… Father make us more like you Lord. Make us still enough to hear the pain of those in need, but quieter still to hear Your voice. That we may ask for what is needed and not what we desire. In your name, and unto You I give this plea. Amen.
Hebrew Text: Proclamation “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace…” (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)
Church, just for today, we will not look at this text in relation to where it sits in historic time and place, or its place within the Bible Cannon. Instead, I ask that you look at this verse in relation to itself. Alone. Remember this is all about perspective.
Read this list as you would a proclamation read during a coronation. Remember that a coronation takes place after the lines of succession have been proven. Those of you who are interested in royalty know that when Queen Elizabeth dies, her son Prince Charles is first in line to succeed her. And his son, Prince William is second in line of succession. Meaning that they each must be trained in the ways of a King.
Maybe some of you watched Prince William marry Catherine, remember that before their wedding, Queen Elizabeth proclaimed him: Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickferus. If he walked into this room and I was asked to introduce him I would say: “His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, Baron Carrickfergus, Royal Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle.”
Now let’s read that verse once more: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…”
Now let me tell you what each title means and leave you with a question:
- Wonderful Counselor – speaks of the potential achievements of the king. Wonderfully as it is used here is…like Gods mighty deliverance at the Exodus (He can offer direction and guidance)
- Mighty God – implies divine kingship or Divine Warrior (God can protect me)
- Everlasting Father – king as protector and father to His people (pretty self-explanatory)
- Prince of Peace – implies freedom from war and the prosperity implicit in shalom (He will give me the Peace necessary to continue, and I am not talking about Madeas Piece)
So my question is…If God the Father is all those things…If Jesus is all those things…Then who are you…and WHO ARE YOU TELLING YOUR CHILDREN THEY ARE?!
Silence: In the very Beginning I am not going to tell you who you are yet…we have a little bit of learning or relearning to do first. Who here knows the story of Adam and Eve?
Well, let’s read a little of their story together:
The serpent was clever, more clever than any wild animal God had made. He spoke to the Woman: “Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?” The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.'” The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.” When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate. Immediately the two of them did “see what’s really going on”—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves. When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God. God called to the Man: “Where are you?” He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.” (Genesis 3: 1-10 MSG)
Now, I want you to think about that story. And ask yourself a question… What did God say?
Now, many of you are like me and have grown up in the church or been around church stuff enough to have heard the story told and you are probably thinking to yourselves, God told Adam and Eve not to eat from any tree in the garden…WRONG, the serpent said that.
Others of you are gonna say, no God told them they could eat from any tree, except the one in the middle of the garden…WRONG, the woman said that.
Now another question… Where was the man as the conversation is taking place?
Well the man was right there!! Cause when she ate from the fruit she handed it to her man and he ate right along with her…
I have to be honest with you, what I am about to tell you is mind blowing-earth shattering even, but it is not an idea I came up with all by myself, I have started reading my birthday present and in it, Rev. Dr. Moss has this to say: “I am constantly amazed at something special happening here, one of which is the silence of Adam, Eve is talking to a snake and Adam is silent.” Hummm, to me that’s deep. See I know that sometimes as I am doing something that is not to a good idea, my stepfather jumps in to say something!! I use to get mad that he jumped in, you know…”He’s not my father.” But now I realize that when my earthly father, didn’t speak up, my Heavenly Father, sent someone to speak up for me. But now I realize it’s out of love…but we aren’t there yet, we are at silence!
Rev Moss breaks down three different types of silence:
- Sacred silence (creative contemplation, meditative silence, both of which are known to lead to fervent prayer.
- Seething silence (quiet on the outside, storm on the inside—noisy quietness)
- Sinful silence (and unfortunately, like Adam this is where many of us get stuck)
We are so stuck in sinful silence that we sit back and pretend things are fine, when they are not. We get so caught up in sinful silence that when it’s time to speak up or time to be quiet on the outside as we storm on the inside we STAY QUIET. We are so caught up in that sinful silence that we allow snakes to talk to us and to our kids. And we LET IT HAPPEN AND STAND AROUND AND DO NOTHING… that’s what Adam did. Nothing! See, that’s a problem.
Then there is seething silence, when we keep our mouths shut and are yelling on the inside, that can be a great thing. It can be a time when we are yelling to GOD all of our pain…PERSPECTIVE!! notice I said yelling, TO God, not AT God! It is a time when we can expunge all the nastiness we want to say and should not say. That’s the kind of quiet that can keep us out of jail!! Talking to God can do that!
And then there is that other kind of silence…the silence that is so still that we find peace to our emotions. Sacred Silence. This type of silence can be a time for organizing, for getting things right, for meditating, for creating, but like the seething silence, this is a time spent communing with God. In communion with God.
Remember that I told you this week I was ready to talk about physical prayer…and then those pictures popped into my mind?
Well, let me tell you a secret, both of those pictures and these readings all have to do with physical prayer. Let me show you how.
PERSPECTIVE. When we are standing in a doorway blocking the things on one side from the things on the other side, sometimes, we have to shield our loved ones from things. Sometimes we have to stand between them and their issues. Sometimes we have to open up our hearts, stand still on the outside, while seething on the inside and protect them while crying out to God. Silence on the outside, talking to God on the inside. Your child comes home crying and you want to yell and scream and shout…become a shield protect your child with the word of God.
I heard of a child who is being told that they are too fat to wear shorts. We are not talking about a child that is an unhealthy weight. I am not saying her doctor is concerned about her weight. We are talking about a little girl, who still has her baby weight. Her limbs haven’t stretched out yet. And people are telling her that she can’t be pretty because of her weight.
We have to be a shield. She needs to hear that, SHE IS WONDERFULLY AND PERFECTLY MADE AND THAT GOD LOVES HER JUST THE WAY SHE IS! And yes, people, we need to remind her that just like God doesn’t stop talking at the end of the Bible, He hasn’t finished with her either, she is still a work in progress and she is still being formed!
WE NEED TO BREAK THE SILENCE…there are enough little girls in our communities who are starving themselves for acceptance, while others are starving because they have no choice but to go hungry. And we can do something about both.
See there are times when in that seething silence, we cry out to God and he does that thing that finally gets us to a different realm. Sacred silence.
That’s where we communicate with God, in our silence. When we become in tune to God, in our silence. When in our silence we give him all of who we are acknowledging our limitations and given our all to God.
Perspective: Speak Up Kati just shared a message with us, and I want to read it to you once more: When I say “I’m a Christian.”
According to the scriptures, we are part of a holy heritage, a blessed people, the apple of His eye. But we have to stop being silent, stop living the status quo and start telling our stories. These children need to hear, that we are not perfect, that we have come a long way, but that we also cry out to God not only for ourselves, but for them.
Conclusion We each have a responsibility that God has given us. I don’t know yours but as I pray over mine, I see the word s teacher and preacher in there. See at some point we have to grow up and accept our calling, or God will instruct someone else to do your job.
Father’s that’s where we are today, at a crossroad where if you aren’t teaching (offering direction, praying, protecting, parenting and educating) your children then, someone else will have to do it. And it could be a snake or it could be a saint. Don’t let the world be their teacher. Be there with them. Because when we that love them, who are responsible for them, pray for them, intercede for them, we aren’t merely sitting in the doorway, we are inside that precipice, helping them reach higher ground. And God, where is God…
- Wonderful Counselor – He can offer direction and guidance, all we have to do is ask
- Mighty God – God can protect
- Everlasting Father – Parents over us at all times
- Prince of Peace – Through Him we get true peace!
He is the shield which we hold up to protect.
Pastora, please help me pray for the fathers of this church, that they may allow themselves to be instruments, that they may be shields. Discerning when to speak up and when to stay quiet. But that their silence maybe seething and sacred and not sinful.
For additional information on the Original Poem by Carol Wimmer, please go to her website: http://carolwimmer.com/poem-history
Video using the words: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt0e9jM9xTI