I am wondering how everyone is doing right now?
It is time for me to speak and to give a sermon right now but I am wondering what it would be like now to simply listen and to hear how you all are doing.
How are you feeling this morning?
So much has been happening.
So much change has occurred in our country since we last met here in this place now almost three months ago.
How would you answer this question of how you are feeling today?
Are you feeling well?
Or do you feel any of these negative feelings?
Are you afraid, detached, isolated, alone, angry, sad, fearful, tired?
No matter how you feel this morning one of the most comforting spiritual truths that I have learned is that whatever we are feeling -whether it be any of those negative feelings I just named or something else, we can always go to God and find again and again that God is with us.
God is with us still.
Even if we feel that we are spiritually distant from God, and we may be feeling that feeling, especially since it has now been a very long time since we have gathered together in this place to share in prayer, in fellowship, and in Holy Communion – but God is still with us.
In the Bible when the Israelites were in exile and they were separated from their land and from one another God was with them still.
When the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and the people had no place to worship -God was with them still.
Jesus says in Mathew chapter 28, “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
However, we feel this morning about our life situation, about our faith, about our country, about our health – Jesus is with us.
During these past three months I have had extra time to pray, to meditate, and to read Scripture.
An insight that the Holy Spirit has given to me during this time is a renewed understanding of the constant and faithful presence of God.
God is indeed always with us.
Jesus promises his presence and his power in our lives.
Jesus’ presence in our lives is a power that moves us in the ways of the Spirit and that teaches us in the ways of God.
In a world that sometimes looks dangerously out of control God gives us the strength to love one another and to heal old paradigms.
The Spirit breathes new life into us to heal old ways of looking at the world that are hurtful and even destructive.
God’s presence and God’s power impact us in ways that we cannot always put into words.
But there it is. God working in and around us.
Sometimes we simply need to listen and not to speak.
This past week as I have watched the protests happening around our country, I initially felt that I needed to say something.
But then I felt compelled to just listen to the message of protestors.
I thought that I needed to say something about what was happening.
And then I came to the realization that what I really should be doing now is to do some earnest listening.
I found myself praying this prayer, “Lord God, may I seek not so much as to be understood as to understand.”
I think that often in life we are quicker to respond and to react then to listen.
How many times have I quickly reacted and then only to realize later that I should have first created some space around the situation for the Holy Spirit to speak and then to be in pray about it and then to listen – to seek to understand that is the healing work that is often needed the most.
In this case I recognize that I need to listen and to try to hear first before I respond and react to the message of the protestors.
Again, in the words of the prayer I need to seek first to understand before I try to make myself understood.
It is a hard thing to do.
I am certainly not perfect here with this.
We all want to be understood first and then later maybe to try to understand.
But as followers of Jesus we need to be humble, teachable people.
We must be paying attention and listening like a student.
Disciples are students.
We could be called students rather then members of Williams Bay Lutheran Church.
We are students of Jesus.
And what is the best way to learn something.
The best way to learn something is to go out and to teach what you are trying to learn.
Jesus said in our Gospel reading for today to go and to baptize and to teach.
Our work now is to listen, to teach, and to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit and while we are doing this ministry we are to be continually growing in the knowledge of God.
By what authority do we do this work.
By Jesus’ authority.
Jesus gives us the authority to do this good work.
You and I have been given authority to join God in this mission work.
It is a life transforming work.
It is very good work.
It is the work that God calls us to do.
It is work that we are sent to do.
God is a sending God.
God sent Jesus into the world to teach us and to save us.
God and Jesus send the Holy Spirit into our lives.
The Spirit empowers us and sends us out to see other people -to truly see and to listen to other people and the truth that they hold.
The Spirit helps us to see and to listen.
The Spirit helps us to see the good in other people.
The Spirit helps us to see the goodness of creation and the goodness of others.
In the Good News of the Gospel we have an empowering message of hope for all people.
Together in the life-giving power of the Holy Trinity we can bring this light into the world.
May you feel and experience the divine light of God this day.
May you feel the presence of the Lord this day.
If your heart is feeling heavy this morning may the burdens that you feel be lifted in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
May you know that Christ is walking with you -forgiving you, loving you, and sending you out to be a healing presence in this world.
As we listen to the voices of those around us and as we seek to be teachable people of God, we can create bridges and new roads of understanding.
And finally, in the words of the Apostle Paul, we pray brothers and sisters, put things in order, listen to the Lord, with great patience try to agree with one another, live in peace, and may the God of love and peace be with you all.