Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of January 14, 2018

Sermon: “A Voice From Heaven”
Text: Mark 1:11

After a hardy rainstorm filled all the potholes in the streets and alleys, a young mother watched her two little boys playing in the puddle through her kitchen window.

The older of the two, a five-year-old lad, grabbed his sibling by the back of his head and shoved his face into the water hole. As the boy recovered and stood laughing and dripping, the mother runs to the yard in a panic.

"Why on earth did you do that to your little brother?" she says as she shook the older boy in anger. "We were just playing church mommy," he said. "And I was just baptizing him ...in the name of the Father, the Son and in...the hole-he-goes.

All joking aside, this morning (Sunday, January 14th) we commemorate the Baptism of Jesus.  As we do, we also remember that day that heaven opened and we were claimed as beloved children of the King in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  We will also come forward to tangibly remember that day as we put our hands in the water and remember the work that God did in our lives.

In the spring of 2011, a new reality singing competition burst on to the American television scene.  Following in the footsteps of American Idol and the X-factor, the goal of this new show like the others that came before, was to discover musically talented people bringing them from the realm of obscurity to stardom.

What made this particular show different is that the contestants could only use their voice to impress the judges. 

The show, known simply as The Voice, relied solely on the audible sound to make an impression.  For some their lives were forever changed by what happened on the show. 

The sound of a voice can be powerful, it can illicit emotional reactions from others.  The voice can move people to tears, or motivate them to action. 

It was the voice of God that began life as we know it.  As we read in our first reading, “The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water.  The Sprit of God was hovering over the water.  Then God said…”

It was by the voice of God that all things came into existence.  As the Spirit hovered over the water, all of creation, light and life sprang forth. 

I wonder what it sounded like?

This past week I did a very un-scientific survey on Facebook.  I asked who would you cast, living or dead, to play the voice of God? 

I got lots of responses.  Some were obvious, Morgan Freeman, Sidney Poitier, Johnny Cash, Patrick Stewart, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Mike Rowe to name a few. 

Some came with a side of funny:
·        James Earl Jones “I am your Heavenly Father!”
·        George Chapman from Monty Python- “Arthur, Arthur, King of the Britons.”
·        Donald Sutherland from The Hunger Games- “And may the Lord be ever in your favor.”
·        Arnold Schwarzenegger- “I’m coming back!”

Others had a more subdued approach suggesting names like Fred Rogers, Tom Hanks, Bob Newhart.

For me, I might pick John Facenda. 

How many of you know the name John Facenda?  If you are a football fan, you know his work.  He was hired in 1966 to narrate an NFL films segment called, “They Call it Pro Football.”

Soon his voice could be heard weekly on television as NFL films brought the action and the beauty to the small screen. 

Facenda narrated many highlight films during his career with NFL Films.  His dulcet baritone was the perfect match for the highly dramatic nature of the footage he narrated, and earned him the nickname "The Voice of God." 

Today we remember the event that took place at the Jordan where a voice from heaven spoke. It was at our Lord’s baptism and in that moment, the true voice of God, the voice that created everything we see, confirmed with power who Jesus was, “You are my Son, whom I love.  I am pleased with you.” (Mark 1:11)

In that moment the entire Trinity was revealed when the Father’s voice declared Jesus to be His beloved Son and the Spirit descended upon him. 

Soon it would be the voice of Jesus proclaiming that Good News of God’s salvation; as He spoke and taught people listened.  His powerful words did miraculous things.  They changed water into wine, healed the sick gave sight to the blind, make the lame walk and raised the dead.  His words are powerful.

I wonder what it sounded like?

It was this Word made flesh whose birth we just celebrated that still comes to us today. 

A few in history have heard the voice of God.  For Moses, God’s voice came as a still small voice. The disciples heard God’s voice as their friend and rabbi called them to become fishers of men.

By the power of the Spirit, the one who hovered over the water at creation, humans were inspired to write down God’s Word.  As prophets and apostles and followers alike followed the inspiration of the Spirit, we too can hear a voice from heaven. 

All too often though, we follow other voices.  The prince of this world, Satan himself tries to lure and entice humanity with sweet and seductive words.  He did so with our first parents, “Did God really say…?” 

Soon humanity fell; sin and death entered the world.  Soon Adam and Eve hear the voice of God calling to them in the cool of the morning, and they were afraid.

Today, a cacophony of voices tries and competes for our attention at times drowning out the voice from heaven.

What voices have you followed?  What voices are in your ears? 

I can only speak for myself, but at times the voice of worldly treasure or earthly pleasure ring loudest in my ears.  I find myself again and again giving in to the temptation of the evil one. 

Take a moment and reminisce over the past week.  How often have you listened to the distracting words of this world, forsaking the voice from heaven?

Was it in the reaction to a loved one, words said in haste that injured or betrayed?  Was it not saying a word when you should have stood up in defense of another?

Where did you once again fall victim to following where you know you shouldn’t have gone. 

It’s been said that science and technology can magnify the human voice enormously, but it cannot do a thing with the voice of conscience. 

Does your conscience betray you?  Do the voices in your head condemn you?  Having a hard time shaking the guilt of your action or inaction?

If so, let me remind you, that a voice from heaven has spoken over you.  For some it was when you first encountered God’s Word and faith was formed.

For many it was on the day of your baptism, heaven opened, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my child, whom I love, I am pleased with you.”

At the moment of your baptism heaven opened and God’s powerful Word was spoken over you.  As the water flowed upon you it had power and brought forgiveness and in that moment you were claimed as a child of God and your sins were washed away. 

It might seem strange to think that ordinary water could do such an extraordinary thing, but listen to how Marin Luther described it. 

“When God said: ‘Let the waters bring forth abundantly’, the water was no longer what is was at first; but now it was full of fish.  Just so Baptism too, is merely water before the Word of God is added to it; it is ordinary water of which a…cook may use for boiling and washing.  However, when the Word of God is pronounced over it, so that Baptism is to be administered in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit it possess the power and might to wash away sin and to save from death.” 

A voice from heaven still speaks to you.  Every time you hear or read God’s Word His voice is heard.  Every time you encounter water you can be reminded of the powerful event where heaven opened, a voice was spoken, and you became His child. 

For me it was the voice of my earthly father as I was brought to the waters of Baptism on May 10, 1970 when I was just 9 days old. 

For some of you it was the voice of Pastor Loesch, or Mueller, or Rutledge, or Kuntz, or Bunnett, or Kritzer, or Moorman, or countless others that God used to bring the saving flood to you. 

If you or someone in your family has not been baptized I encourage you to talk to me, pastor K, or someone else on staff.  If you want more information about Baptism, I invite you to check out the Bethany Facebook page where I posted a video about Baptism.  Feel free to share that with your friends and family as well. 

On this day as we remember the baptism of Jesus, we to seek to listen to that voice from heaven who says to you, “You are my child whom I love, I am pleased with you.”

-Pastor Seth Moorman


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counter