Der Vasken’s Sermon on March 17, 2024

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

“There is a time to keep silent and a time to speak.”

These words come from the Old Testament and I find them to be the perfect words for us to hear on this sixth and last Sunday of Lent because Lent is the time to “keep silent” in the presence of God and listen to His Voice. These are beautiful words—timeless words—that were written 1000 years before Jesus Christ was born but what these words ask of us is not easy to do at least for many of us. I say that because I find, and I’m sure that many of you will agree, that it is hard to find a moment in the day to be completely silent, that it is hard to find a few minutes to get away from the noise and to think and to spend “silent time” with God on any given day. This is because our lives are constantly on the move.

So many of us feel pressured by the demands of life that “silent time” with God is essentially not realistic or hardly possible. I’ve spoken with many people recently—parishioners I’ve known for a long time—who feel so lost by the busyness of their lives of their lives that it is nearly impossible for them to find “silent time” to be with God.

Silent moments with God don’t come easily when our schedules are beyond full. Silent moments with God don’t occur when we are tied to our computers and phones and the Internet every day hour after hour creating background noise that downs out our dinner conversations and interrupts other quiet moments that we try to reserve for family and God.

In other words, who can be silent hoping to hear the Voice of God in their lives with all the political turmoil surrounding us every day; or when we hear about a father who murdered his five-year-old little girl not far from here; or wars that linger on around the world; or the constant threats being made to the sovereign boarders of Armenia; or wild fires burning people out of their homes in the south? It’s hard to be silent. Who can be silent and know God with all this deafening commotion?

Lent is a special time of the year when we are encouraged to guard against those worldly distractions and pull away from the noise of the world and make room for the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts and minds with those things that bring us closer to the Kingdom of God as only He can. Lent is a time the Church sets aside every year for us to look inward and listen to the Voice of God. Why do we do this every year? It is because inside every human heart there is the gentle and persistent sound of Jesus Christ knocking. Only those who create time to listen will be able to hear the knock above the noise of the world and “answer Him.”

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 answer the knock and invite God in to take up residence.

So in this last week of Lent, remember God gives us a choice. We can open the door and invite Him in or we can refuse to open the door and keep Him out. But there is one thing we cannot do. We cannot silence the knock. God’s knock remains constant. He knocks persistently and patiently because He wants to share the Kingdom of Heaven with us. He will continue to knock until the day our heart no longer beats.

May we all use the time left of Great Lent to our advantage. Listen for God’s knock and invite Him in. We can share our joys and sorrows with Him and invite Him to touch our lives and heal where healing is needed and grow closer to Him. All this can happen when we make the time to be silent and listen for His Voice. “I stand at the door and knock.” How will you answer?

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday. I hope you can join us with your families.

Amen.

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