Today’s scripture readings are an interesting contrast. I read through them twice and had no idea what I was going to say. Then I heard an elderly woman singing and it came to me instantly. The Holy Spirit moves in mysterious ways. Today’s readings speak to me of prayer, comfort and risk. Comfort. In Ezra, the exiled Jews long to rebuild the house of God and worship and sacrifice. The psalmist rejoices going up to the house of the Lord.
Risk. In Luke, Jesus’ mother and brothers come to see him, but cannot reach him due to the crowds. Christ says, My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.
There is a wildly popular television show right now called American Idol. On the show, contestants stand before an audience and judges and sing. Some of the contestants have beautiful voices. Some of the contestants do not. They risk ridicule and rejection. My grandmother O’Reilly would have fallen into this latter category. As an adult looking back at my childhood, I realized my grandmother did not have a good singing voice. And yet she sang to me whenever we were together and I loved her voice. She sang old Irish songs and lullabies. My grandma has been gone for many years, but I still remember the songs. What a wonderful gift. I’m sure my grandmother knew she did not have a good singing voice. I wonder if she was self conscious about it. I wonder if she feared rejection and ridicule when she sang. Did she feel that risk when she sang? When I heard an elderly woman with a similar voice singing recently, it brought wonderful memories flooding back.
We Christians walk an interesting path. On one side is the comfort of the body of Christ. It feels good to be in the house of God. It’s a place where we can recharge our spiritual batteries. There is security in worshipping with others who love Christ. And yet Christ says we have to step out of the comfortable area. If we are going to obey Christ’s commands, we have to risk. Maybe we think we aren’t qualified to present the Good News of Christ. Maybe we don’t really feel we have a gift to give. Maybe we don’t think we can sing. Maybe we don’t even think we can pray. Have you ever had a time where you thought, God doesn’t want to hear about my petty little problems?
I have heard people offer up prayers that amazed me. A tiny, elderly lady from China visited my church recently. I could not understand her language, yet when she prayed, you knew you had heard a prayer. Sometimes (like today) when I pray, I feel foolish. I read God’s word and then I have to ask God to help me understand His word. I get a vision of God running his hands through his hair in frustration. I feel my prayer is feeble compared to others I have heard. And yet, Christ tells us that God longs to hear our voice.
My prayer today is for those of us who sometimes do not know how to talk to God. Who do not feel worthy to offer up a prayer to God. That we would know that God loves us and longs to hears our voice. God hears every prayer. Whether it is spoken with a beautiful, eloquent voice or a soft, humble plea.
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