What does is mean to hear the sound of God’s voice?
The sound of God’s voice echoes throughout the 23,145 verses of the Bible. In the first five verses of the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, the sound of God’s creative voice is heard for the first time as God’s Spirit moves over the face of the deep. and as God says “let there be light” to the swirling darkness of chaotic creative possibility. I invite you to hear this story that sets the foundation for the biblical story:
When God began to create the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was complete chaos, and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
It only takes 53 verses to travel from the first day of creation in Genesis 1:3 to the first day of sin in Genesis 3:6 as Adam and Eve choose to trust in the voice of a talking serpent who said “you will be like God.” It is this choice that sets the course for the remaining 23,079 verses of the Bible as the story of Adam and Eve becomes the story of all humanity, the story of what The United Methodist Church defines as original sin:
the story of sinful consequences as Adam and Eve become the father and mother of biblical generations who wander in a wilderness of voices as we attempt to be like God
the story of trusting our voices rather than trusting God’s voice
the story of humanity trusting talking snakes rather than trusting God
Thankfully, the biblical story of a wandering humanity does not end with the story of original sin in third chapter of Genesis as the remaining 1,186 chapters of the Bible tell the story of a forgiving God who will go to any length to find and redeem us as the sound of God’s voice calls us to:
follow rather than wander
be whole rather than fractured
be part of the story of a new creation
be part of the story of God’s kingdom
It is in the reality of the biblical story of a creating, searching, and redeeming God that we listen for the sound of God’s voice in the story of John the Baptist from the third chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Among the 1,189 chapters that tell the biblical story, the third chapter of Matthew is a lynchpin chapter of the Bible because it confirms the story of God’s redemption of a fallen creation is made possible through Jesus.
Dr. Stanley Saunders describes why the third chapter of Matthew about John the Baptist and Jesus is a lynchpin chapter in the biblical story of faith:
“While informing us about John the Baptizer’s role, it also locates the ministries of John and Jesus in the larger biblical drama of the redemption of God’s people. The narrative arc of the Bible runs from God’s creation of heaven and earth, followed by human rebellion and the sundering of earth from heaven, through God’s various attempts to restore Israel in order to fulfill their mission, to the inauguration of God’s work to restore and renew the broken creation in the ministry of Jesus. Knowing who we are and what kinds of practices define us has everything to do with knowing where we are in the larger story set forth in the Bible.”
To say it another way, the sound of God’s voice heard in the beginning, as God said, “let there be light” is the same sound of God’s voice heard in Jesus as God said, “This is my Son, the Beloved with whom I am well pleased.”
Mother Teresa, who in 1950 founded the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to helping the poor was speaking to persons from Roman Catholic orders all over the world who had come to meet her. After her talk, she asked if there were any questions. A woman sitting near the front said, “Yes, I have one. As you know, most of the orders represented here have been losing members. It seems that more and more women are leaving all the time. And yet your order is attracting thousands upon thousands. What do you do?”
Mother Teresa answered, “I give them Jesus.” “Yes, I know,” said the woman, “but take habits, for example. Do your women object to wearing habits? And the rules of order, how do you do it?” “I give them Jesus,” Mother Teresa replied.
“Yes, I know, Mother,” said the woman, “but can you be more specific?” “I give them Jesus,” Mother Teresa replied again. “Mother,” said the woman, “we are all of us aware of your fine work. I want to know about something else.” Mother Teresa said quietly, “I give them Jesus. There is nothing else.”
On this second Sunday of Advent, we hear the sound of God’s voice that echoes throughout the 23,145 verses of the Bible saying in Matthew 3:17, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
There is nothing else.
The Sound of God’s Voice
by Pastor Marc Brown
December 4, 2022
Accompanying Scriptures: Matthew 3:1-17
Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for December 4, 2022
Scripture Lesson Matthew 3:1-17
The Good News “The Sound of God’s Voice”
Music “People, Look East” Hymn #202
Closing Music “Bring a Torch, Jeannette Isabella” arr. Mark Hayes