CALL TO WORSHIP:
ONE: God’s rainbow arches over us; we fear nothing anymore
For what can conquer God?
ALL: Before the beginning, and after the end, God will be.
ONE: Everything works together for God’s goals.
ALL: If God is with us, nothing we do is wasted.
ONE: Like sunbeams dancing on a lake, even our weakest efforts
will gather into the glory of God.
ALL: Gales may buffet, and storms clouds may shadow,
but God will never give up on us.
ONE: We will arise and go now; we will sink into God’s watery womb.
ALL: And rise again into new life.
ONE: A new day has dawned.
ALL: This is the day God gave us--we will rejoice and be glad in it.
OBEYING GOD. October 5, 2014
Acts 5: 27-32
I remember last year, the Dollard des Ormeaux champion midget hockey team was invited to take part in a tournament on the West Island. The team from Dollard’s first game was on the first day of Passover.
Now the Dollard team players and coaching staff were mainly Jewish and felt it was against their understanding of GOD’S TEACHINGS to play hockey during Passover.
Even though another team was willing to change places, the organizers of the tournament would not change the schedule. So the team didn’t play and automatically lost the game.
To them, they were OBEYING GOD rather than the authority of man.
It makes us stop and think of how we use Sunday, “our day of rest.”
In this morning Scripture we find Peter and the disciples once again before the court, accused of civil disobedience. They had just been told not to preach in Jerusalem -, found guilty--flogged and ordered once again, not to speak in the name of Jesus. Peter courageously tells them “WE MUST OBEY GOD RATHER THAN HUMAN AUTHORITY.” Finally released they ignored the court warning and went right back to preaching about Jesus and how his teachings can help people in their daily lives.
Peter had but one message for the courts-- WE MUST OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN. His chose to do what God asked, regardless of the consequences eventually led to his death.
This adventure of Peter and the disciples goes right to the heart of Christian living—be OBEDIENT to GOD!
Peter’s story is about making the decision.--Whether to follow God’s ways or become a victim to human persuasion.
AS followers of Jesus and trying to be faithful—the story tells us we’ll need courage--it inspiration and faith –it reminds us God’s Spirit is here to help us.
Yet it’s not that simple. It can get confusing when society or ones spouse or friends suggest one way and God seems to tell us to take a different route. Then what?
Just to illustrate this:
**A doctor at the Barrie is offered a partnership in a large rich practice, in Toronto. This will take her away from her rewarding practice-- serving people who she knows and who trusted her. It would put more money in her pockets but would it put joy in her heart. Her ambitious husband says, TAKE IT. God who speaks to her conscience her sense of values, her appreciation of human life and the needs of the community --God says, LET IT ALONE. She --loves her husband and wants to be loyal to him-- and loyal to God. She knows that she cannot obey both of them. What would you do?
**Or consider a university teacher at McGill. He’s loyal to the university and the board of Directors--he’s also loyal to his students. When the Board of Directors request he adapt his course to some particular political or religious ideology, to comply would violate the truth as he understands it.
He is torn between two conflicting loyalties the School Board says one thing; and his inner voice of God who expects differently.
We can see conflicts are often more complicated than they seem. They often involve not one loyalty, but a whole chain of loyalties.
For instance, the university teacher has a wife and children. If he refuses to comply with the board’s request, he will probably lose his job. If he were the only person involved, he might gladly make the sacrifice and resign.
--But what about the children? Has he any right to make them suffer and pay the price of his decision?
--What about his students who look up to him; will they be left high and dry if he resigns?
--What about his wife who is happy with their life and is deeply involved with in the community.
All these questions and many more bear upon the issue. So we see the difficulty when we must make a decision. And I don’t suggest for a minute following God will always be easy.
“Whistle blowing” has become quite fashionable but can we appreciate the gut wrenching decisions and the probable consequences, one banished to Russia and another jailed for life in U.S.A., for following an inner voice rather than their superiors.
I guess the question is, how and when do we OBEY GOD VOICE. It’s a good question and I would like to pass on some of my thoughts.
First, we must recognize God communicates with us in different ways. We can hear God’s voice in the words of scripture or meditation. We can hear God’s voice in the words of a song, the melodies of music, or even the sounds of nature. Sometimes, God gets through to us without any words at all but our ears must be open to hear.
A good start might be applying the Golden Rule. We all know it-- do to others as we would like them do to us.
I read of a youth dance that’s an example of treating others the way we like to be treated.
**In the early 1960s a community group was holding a dance for youth. All the grade six kids were having a great time, dancing with one another. John; the only Afro- American boy was happily dancing with all the girls from his class. The adult in charge quietly pulled the girls aside and told them to refuse to dance with John. He warned that if they continue to dance with him, then all future dances would be cancelled.
Jill was suddenly scared. She knew to refuse dancing with John was wrong. But, she had been taught to respect and obey her elders, and she didn’t want to be the cause of ending the dances. So when John asked her to dance, she politely said “no,” as did all the other girls; except for Sarah, the one Jewish girl in their sixth grade class. Sarah said YES. She knew what it was like to be excluded.
To this day when Jill encounters an injustice, she remembers this dance, and John and Sarah. She remembers that she was too intimidated by the adult authority to do what she thought was right but that Sarah was willing to disobey.
This memory INSPIRES HER TO SPEAK UP and not always listen to human advice, but listen to a HIGHER SPIRITUAL POWER.
We might think about are God’s concern for JUSTICE and EQUALITY. What about FOOD, CLOTHING and SHELTER these are needed by everyone—A good arena is speaking out against OPPRESSION, these are all good places to start.
Finally, what areas of our daily lives can we apply these decisions? A few that come to mind-- healthcare issues — budgeting our money—educating our children—Government spending —environment.
Thinking of environment, this month there were several happening-- a huge PROTEST in New York City against the oil pipelines and the high level of CO2 emissions that drew thousands of demonstrators—locally, the introduction of HUGE TANKER SHIPS, approx. 800ft. By150ft. To carry crude oil from the west up the St. Lawrence River. If we want to be able to breathe and continue living on this planet, maybe the Environment is an area we should all be concerned and need to get involved.
We might consider how we spend our SABBATH.
This morning, by being here in church could be considered an act of OBEYING GOD instead of listening to relatives and friends!
This may not seem like much, but when the majority of the community is staying home, sleeping-in and say they get nothing out of going to church
-- We on the other hand have decided not to listen to them—but to be OBEDIENT to a higher power and come together to receive spiritual nourishment. And I must say with all the hustle and bustle of our daily lives it seems an appropriate place.
Doesn’t feel great to be here this morning—worshipping as a family-- thanking God for all we have-- enjoying being here together singing and praising God. It was a good decision!
If the ministry begun by Jesus is to continue, it requires disobedient women, men and children, who like Peter are unafraid to defy the authority of men and obey the spirit of God.
Jesus calls us his church family to challenge and change today’s society and the support of our Christian community will give us the courage to use Civil Disobedience when human authority is contrary to GOD’S WILL.
Let us pray:
Dear Lord you have given us a mighty task, to follow your commands, but we are not always up for the task. Each day we feel the pressure of society enticing us to be selfish and greedy. We ask for deaf ears to ignore its call and listen to your voice. Deep in our hearts we know you have called us to be part-yet a part of society and so this morning we ask you to help us in all that we do to reflect your glory and love. Help us to let others get a glimpse of you when they interact with us. AMEN