Updated: Jan 30
I remember watching a television program about the lost civilization of Atlantis, a long time ago. It might have been a story based on some of Edgar Cayce’ trances and the information he gave about those ancient times. Or, maybe it was based on the writings of Plato, who also wrote about that ancient place.
Whatever the source, the image it placed in my mind’s eye was of a large arena where many people had gathered to be informed about the latest news. This was not only news “broadcast” to that arena, but simultaneously to many places around the world. Instead of murmur and noise filling that arena, where a featured speaker would be expected to “speak” words that were amplified by large speakers to all who were there, it was a scene of complete silence.
No words were expressed, as we recognize “audible speech” today. Everything was communicated through what we call ESP.
Because silence is a central theme in the readings today, I will now THINK of a sermon, and it will be up to you to pick up on it.
Remember to, “keep silent” and “listen to him,” the voice of God who connects all of our minds.
Is everyone able to hear well enough?
<listen for responses>
<repeat squeezing out thoughts>
How about now? No?
Well, this doesn’t seem to be working very well. Maybe we should work on our ESP a little longer and try this again another Sunday.
In the meantime, I’ll vocalize a sermon about the readings today.
Over the past year, we have read the second Kings reading before (albeit without the last two verses) and we have read of the same account told of in Mark’s Gospel, as that told by Matthew. So, these messages are not new.
And, then again, the messages I will convey today are different from the last two times I talked about those readings.
They are different because, as we read from Paul today, “our gospel is veiled.” That means it is difficult to understand clearly what everything we read aloud means, simply from reading … without reflection.
The gospel is like a cloud. We can see it look like one thing now, but give it time and it can change and look like something else. Same cloud, different shapes.
Paul wrote about those who have the hardest time understanding what the Holy Bible says and means are “those who are perishing.”
He said, “In their case the god of the world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers,” where “god” is spelled with a lower “g.” That use of “theos” has to be seen as intending to project a lesser deity than the Father who art in heaven. Unbelievers tend to worship material gods, or “the god of the world.”
Thus, when we believers read the Holy Bible, we have to read through the veil; and we are just like the unbelievers except “we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.” We stop being unbelievers when we start being slaves for Jesus’ sake.
That means Jesus has to whisper in my ear what the readings mean, so I can then tell you … so I can “lift up the veil and let you see … to “Let light shine out of darkness.” So you can understand, I have to first be shone in my heart the light of knowledge, so I can then become the face of Jesus Christ. Only as a slave can I wear that face.
That means that I am not standing alone before you, as one leader speaking audibly to followers of Christ. The fact that I have to talk out loud means I am teaching in a worldly way. If we could be doing the Atlantis thing … telepathically communicating … it would be like Jesus, Peter, James and John did on the high mountain. If that be the case, you might be able to see Jesus standing beside me, telling me what to say.
If I am able to tell you something about the readings that makes you marvel, to see something clearly that you had never seen before in the scriptures, then you might feel like exclaiming, “It is good for us to be here in this building, dedicated to the worship of Jesus Christ as Lord.”
High mountains have snow and require shelters.
However, that is when God speaks, saying, “Jesus is my son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Jesus speaks here, but also on high mountains, on Interstate highways, and even in the Walmart … if you listen close enough.
God spoke that message to three frightened disciples from a cloud. The cloud is the veil surrounding the gospel, making it change shapes from one reading to the next. Jesus is the one who whispers the hidden meaning of those veiled words … to each of us believers who are willing to listen.
So, like in that arena the television program depicted, of a meeting in Atlantis … shut up and listen for the whispers.
<tap on the podium …”Attention. Attention. Can I have your attention please? The gathering is about to start having meaning.”>
In the 2nd Kings reading, where Elijah is making his farewell tour through the Northern Kingdom of Israel, also known as “Samaria,” the stops he made were to places where a “company of prophets” came out in each place to meet him.
In each of those places (Bethel and Jericho), the prophets came out to ask Elisha, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?”
In the veil of those words, one can become confused and think something happened that informed them of that information … such as a messenger arriving beforehand with that news, or Elijah holding a meeting with the prophets that announced that … but the reality is they had that collective ESP thing working for them. They listened to the whispers and they had this light of knowledge.
When you understand that, then when Elisha responded to each question, “Yes, I know; keep silent,” he was not telling the company of prophet to shut up and listen. They had done that, so they knew. They were asking Elisha, “Do you know?” He was confirming to them, saying what he said, that he knew by being silent you could receive valuable information from God.
In essence, Elisha responded, “Gotcha. I have to listen to the whispers. I need to use my ESP.”
Now, the purpose of having these three readings, and Psalm 50, all together to ponder today … to receive the messages that are sent by God to us believers … is for us to see ourselves in each of these readings.
We are Elisha, who wants to “inherit” the abilities of a high priest, a true prophet of the Lord. We want to be able to listen and hear what God sends to us.
We are the unbelievers, who want to believe. We want to be able to see through the veil and wear the face of Jesus Christ. We want the light to shine from us to those in darkness.
We are the disciples of Jesus who are too busy trying to understand the meaning of visions we have … those that are projected to us through the messages held in the Torah (Moses), the Prophets (Elijah), and the New Testament (Jesus).
We are the Israelites who “gather as loyal followers, those who have made a covenant with God and sealed it with sacrifice.”
David told us, “Our God will come and will not keep silence.”
He comes to us in a cloud, as veiled words, and as a whirlwind.
We want a “double share.” We want to be able to be a social butterfly, doing as we please, while also being a servant to the Lord … on Sunday mornings; but “that is a hard thing to ask for.”
The clothes we wear cannot serve two gods, one of this world and one of heaven. If we can see Heaven, we can rest assured we have served the same God, both on earth and in Heaven.
However, if we can only see “a chariot of fire and horses of fire separating us from heaven,” and if we lose sight of Jesus as he ascends, we are forced to choose who we serve. Do we serve the God of Christ and Israel? Or, do we serve the god of this world?
As loyal followers of Christ, with the new covenant with God, through Christ, we still must seal that choice with a sacrifice.
We must tear our clothes in two and pick up the mantle of Apostleship.
We have to live by what we have been taught … “keep silent” … “listen” to the Father, through the Son.
We are called to wear the face of Jesus Christ and shine light to the world.
Picture from Wikipedia: “Kingdoms of Israel and Judah map 830” by Oldtidens_Israel_&_Judea.svg: FinnWikiNoderivative work: Richardprins (talk) – Oldtidens_Israel_&_Judea.svg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kingdoms_of_Israel_and_Judah_map_830.svg#mediaviewer/File:Kingdoms_of_Israel_and_Judah_map_830.svg
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