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A hush fell over the crowd

Pastoral Messages | October 3, 2017

There is a lot of chatter in the world. Does it feel that way to you, too? We have round-the-clock news on television and radio, and social media is just a finger’s-length away at all times. Some people never stop to take a breath. I wonder, though, whether or not anyone is really listening to all that talk? Can anyone really hear over all of the noise?

A short excerpt from James 1:19-20 has been in my mind lately. The author writes, “You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” Listen. It’s easy to forget to do that in such a stimulating world. Maybe we are afraid that we’ll miss our chance to chime in. It takes a challenging, conscious effort to listen before we speak or get angry.

It’s especially difficult to listen when there are so many triggers in the news. One of the most divisive stories we’re facing today comes from the National Football League. Several players have been kneeling as a sign of protest during the singing of the national anthem. Many reactions to these protests have been loud and insensitive. Whether people are in support of the players or disagree with them, anger is boiling over into everyday conversations.

But, if we’re too quick to shout our own opinions on the matter, then we might miss something important. If we listen, then we might gather something that we need to hear. From those who are protesting, we might hear about the constant struggles that people of color face as they try to navigate their way through ordinary parts of life. From those who disagree, we might hear about the hardships of underappreciated veterans who do not feel supported after giving so much of their lives to this country. If we listen, we are sure to hear that we have neighbors who are hurting and who need our love and support.

Being slow to speak and slow to anger allows us the luxury of listening. And once we hear the cries of pain all around us, then we can use our voices and our anger to do something about it.

God, give us listening hearts so that we do not fill this world with anger and arguments, but instead with love and peace for all of your children.

Josh Kestner, pastor in residency

5 Comments on “A hush fell over the crowd”

  • Trish Gerwig

    October 24, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    You rock, Josh. Listening is a hard skill to develop but well worth it. Watched an interview with a veteran who had a conversation with one of the NFL players – who agreed to kneel instead of sit for the anthem. The vet felt that kneeling was more respectful. A change occurring because two individuals listened to each other.
    Thanks for bringing up a sensitive topic and tying it to the Gospel.
    love you, MIL (mom-in-law)

  • David DeWit

    October 5, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Often, listening is all that is needed by those who are hurting.

  • Carol Seitz

    October 5, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    A point well taken and listened to in this Tower of Babel we live in today.

  • Don Garrison

    October 5, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Don’t want to miss my chance to chime in. I didn’t realize when I first read the old testament story of the Tower Of Babel , that it was actually a prophet telling us about the world of twitter that we experience to day. Too much noise, confusion and babel being sent thru all those towers. Time for a tumble.

  • Len Bruce

    October 5, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    I appreciate your timely and thoughtful comments. Too rarely, do we stop to listen before announcing our opinions, condemn those who disagree with us or challenge our core beliefs.
    Thank you you for a voice of reason in an otherwise unreasonable climate of fear, distrust, and revenge.

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Isaiah 53:4-12

4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

And our sorrows He carried;

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

6All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all

To fall on Him.

7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He did not open His mouth;

Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,

So He did not open His mouth.

8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;

And as for His generation, who considered

That He was cut off out of the land of the living

For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9His grave was assigned with wicked men,

Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

Because He had done no violence,

Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10But the LORD was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

He will see His offspring,

He will prolong His days,

And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

And He will divide the booty with the strong;

Because He poured out Himself to death,

And was numbered with the transgressors;

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

And interceded for the transgressors.

Psalm 91:9-16

9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

10No evil will befall you,

Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

12They will bear you up in their hands,

That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,

The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

14“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

15“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

16“With a long life I will satisfy him

And let him see My salvation.”

Hebrews 5:1-10

The Perfect High Priest

1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;2he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;3and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.4And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,

“YOU ARE MY SON,

TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”;

6just as He says also in another passage,

“YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER

ACCORDING TOTHE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.”

7In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:35-45

35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.”36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”37They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”39They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.40“But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.42Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.43“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.45“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Bartimaeus Receives His Sight