Der Vasken's Sermon on April 2, 2017
Apr 4, 2017
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
"Be still and know that I am God..."
Today is the sixth and final Sunday of Great Lent, which means that we have one week left to make the most of this season called Lent. "Be still and know that I am God... "These words come from the Book of Psalms [Ps.46] and I find them to be the perfect words for us to hear during the Lenten season because Lent is the time to "be still" in the presence of God. But they are words easier said than done. I say that because I find--and I'm sure that many of us will agree--that it's hard to find a quiet moment in the day, that it's hard to find a few minutes to relax and to think, and to spend "alone time" with God every day. This is because our lives are constantly on the move.
So many of us are pressured by the demands of work and family and community activities and volunteer commitments that "alone time" with God is essentially squeezed out of our daily lives. The lives of so many people today are so overly extended that it's nearly impossible for them to be still and know God. Still moments with God just don't happen with full schedules. I've noticed, this year much more so than past years, that Lent fell at a very busy--too busy--time of year. With a blink of an eye, we went from one scheduled event to another faster than we should ever hope for.
- To me, it feels like I was just welcoming people to our annual picnic but that was seven months ago.
- We, as a parish, were just sitting at our tables celebrating our anniversary banquet, but that was last October.
- We were just enjoying our Thanksgiving meal in the hall.
- We were just watching the Sunday School Christmas pageant in the church and singing Christmas carols in church.
- We just spent the weekend with our Primate but that was already two weeks ago.
Who can be still when every day we are made aware of a former football player on trial for a double murder? Who can be still when an artist in Everett is stabbed fourteen times and his murderer goes off to celebrate by ordering a take-out Chinese dinner like nothing happened? Who can be still when a man in North Andover is arrested for robbing a store and assaulting the store owner and later admits that he thinks he also killed someone earlier that night but can't remember for certain. Who can be still with all the border control issues being discussed or when we hear about climate change or Russian election probes or something else about our health care? It's hard to be still. Who can be still and know God with all this worldly commotion?
Lent is a special time of the year when we are encouraged to guard against worldly distractions, to pull away from the noise of the world and make room for the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts and minds with the sound and scent and sight and touch and taste of Heaven as only God can. Lent is a time the Church sets aside each year for us to look inward and listen to the voice of God in our hearts. And why do we do this every year? Because inside of every heart is the faint but persistent sound of God knocking. But only those who listen through their "ears of faith" will be able to hear the knock above the noise of our busy world and "open the door."
One of the most famous statements Jesus ever made reads like this: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock... and if you open the door, I will enter and dwell within your heart." The knocking on the "door of our heart" is constant and waiting for all of us to open because it won't open by itself. We have to choose to turn the knob and invite God in to take up residence. So in this last week of Lent, remember God gives us a choice. We can turn the knob and invite God in or we can refuse to open the door and keep God out. But there is one thing we cannot do. We cannot silence the knock. God's knock remains constant--as constant as our own heartbeat. He knocks persistently and patiently because He wants to share the Kingdom of Heaven with us. And He will continue to knock until the day our heart beats no longer in this world.
So use the time left of Great Lent to your advantage. Listen to God's knock in your "heart of hearts" and invite Him in. Let Him know who you are. Share your joys and sorrows. Let Him touch your pain and heal your aches. And let Him hear your voice and then be still and know that He is God. "I stand at the door and knock," says the God of our Fathers. How will you answer?