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Easter 6A Sermon
Guest Preacher
Deacon Nick Bates
May
17, 2020

 

Sermon Archives
 

 

Peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Can you all hear me okay?
Can you hear me now?
Can…. YOU… HEAR ME Now?

How many of you have uttered this phrase on a google chat, or zoom meeting in the past two months? How many people have meticulously figured out the best wifi reception areas and cell phone reception areas in your house? At our house, we have moved tables, purchased better headphones with microphones, and are trying our best to make sure that all all four of us can be heard during our constant meetings.

But sometimes, the internet is down, or the other people on the call are still struggling to get their video conferencing technology to work correctly.

Sometimes we just cannot hear one another.

As a parent, I struggle everyday to not only physical hear my children, but to comprehend what they are telling me.

Are they hungry?
Are they scared?
Are they anxious?
Are they overwhelmed?

As a parent, if I don’t understand right away, my kids get flustered and frustrated.

In our world today, we have so many people who feel like they are going unheard.
The hungry, the poor, the marginalized, the outcasts in our communities.

We see, once again, in the data that African American communities are being hit the hardest by COVID-19. Do we hear the pleas for racial justice?

Parents are being sent back to work, but childcare options are limited. Does Ohio’s Governor hear the stress these families are in?

Those who have pre-existing conditions rightfully see this virus as a life and death issue. Who hears their pleas for economic security while they shelter in place?

There are those who want a return to normalcy and some are picking up guns and making threats against public leaders so that their voices may be heard.

While we may not always hear one another, Jesus always does. Jesus sits and eats with prostitutes and tax collectors, Jesus feeds the hungry and heals the sick. Jesus didn’t need swords to be heard but was able to spread a message of God’s grace through acts of love.

How do we – as followers of Jesus - hear the pleas of our neighbors? How are we called to make sure that the world can hear them?

Jesus promises the Disciples an advocate – the Holy Spirit – to continue to be with them even after Jesus’ physical body leaves this earth. The advocate hears our pleas even when we can’t form the words.

We have a God who came to earth, walks with us, eats with us, and dies for us - because God wanted to demonstrates a deep commitment and love for humanity - Emmanuel – God with us. No matter what we do, God will always leave the line open. God will always be there for us to offer healing and restoration.

The roll of the advocate isn’t to be eloquent, but to improve lines of communication. The Holy Spirit as Advocate helps us to hear God’s will for us.

The Gospel today says that those who love God will Keep Gods Commandments.Jesus taught the Disciples that all the commandments should be viewed as loving God and loving our neighbor, but how do we love our neighbor in a world where we must remain apart? We have an opportunity as church together to stop and listen to how God is calling us to be church together for the sake of the world.

As many of you know, I am the director of the Hunger Network in Ohio – a statewide faith-based non-profit that believes we can end hunger by addressing the root causes of poverty. We do advocacy. We recently conducted a statewide survey of social ministry organizations. Only 15% of congregations reported beginning new social ministries to meet changing needs during this COVID-19 crisis. One example I really enjoyed was how one congregation adapted to meet the technology barriers their neighbors were facing.They set upwifi hot spots in their parking lot to help students continue to learn.

They listened to the needs.
They listened to God calling them.
They acted as the Church.

Now, I will be the first to confess that when the Holy Spirit calls me, I ghost the Holy Ghost and send the Advocate to Voicemail.

But the Holy Spirit doesn’t give up.Sometimes my busy life gets in the way. The dog is barking, the kids want to play, work messages are piling up, but the Holy Spirit keeps trying to reach all of us. Sometimes the connection might not be clear, sometimes the Holy Spirit will use interesting messengers. In the end, if we keep listening, we will realize that God is calling.

When I began my career as an advocate on issues of homelessness and hunger, I thought my job would be to eloquently convince legislators that my cause was just. But the Holy Spirit guided me to put my own ego in check and learn to be an advocate. I remember one of my first trips to DC in the mid-2000s, we worked on improving financial aid for independently homeless youth trying to go to college. See they didn’t have their parents financial information so they were being denied. Nobody was against these changes, but they were so small for many in Congress to pay attention to. As an advocate for these youth, it wasn’t my job to convince Congress to prioritize them. No, as the advocate, it was my job to drive the van and scheduled the meetings for the youth. We had positive meetings that day with Dennis Kucinich, Jim Jordan and the majority of the Ohio delegation - the law was passed a few weeks later.

The advocate helps those who are marginalized to be heard. The advocate equips us to get to where we need to be.

How is God calling on us right now as church together to speak for those who are afraid in a changing world? How is God equipping us right now to be a sacred and beloved community focused on guaranteeing that all receive their daily bread? How is God pushing us into new spaces to show a radical and never ending love for those who have lost hope?

As the church, how is the Holy Spirit accompanying us in responding to this crisis?

As the body of Christ in the world – we are sustained in our worship so that we may be sent out. In a few weeks, we will celebrate one of the Christian Churches most holy of days – Pentecost – the birthday of the Church. The Church is created and sent into the world to spread God’s love in different and ever changing circumstances.

But we are not sent alone.We are never alone. We are sent with the Advocate to help us know God’s will for us because God is Emmanuel.

Can you hear me now?
Can you hear your neighbor now?
Can you hear God’s call for you now?
Listen. Be still. Welcome the advocate into your life, Be an advocate for your neighbor.
Amen.