Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hide and Seek

16th Sunday of Pentecost
Fr. Philip Eberhart
September 8, 2013

click title for audio

Have you ever played "hide and seek" when you were a kid?   Did you ever hide by putting your hand over your eyes and thinking that you were invisible?  Isn't that silly - kind of childish thinking - that we can put our hand over our eyes or close our eyes and simply not be seen any longer!  How foolish.  Of course we can be seen - by everyone around us with their eyes open.

In our readings this morning, Jeremiah and David, the psalmist address a similar kind of thinking on the part of Israel and on the part of each one of us individually.  Somehow we believe that we can simply close our eyes to our sinfulness and it disappears from God's view!

How absurd.  How foolish.

Jeremiah was taken on a road-trip down to the Potter's House.  Of course, this was a place of commerce - a shop where the most common pieces of life were formed and then fired and then sold for use in the home.  When Val and I got engaged, we had a friend
who was a potter at ORU in the Art Department.  Brian was his name.  Brian decided to give us a set of pottery for our wedding present.
And so, a few months before our wedding in the fall, Brian began to form the pieces and mix the glazes.  At the end of the process, we had a hand-thrown, artist signed, 8 place setting of plates, bowls, chalices, serving pieces.  It was astounding work and an astounding gift to us as we were starting out in life.  

In ancient Israel, hand thrown pottery was all there was.  In archaeological digs around the middle east, you can see the shards, the broken pieces of that life and time scattered everywhere, for the picking up.

So this was no little enterprise that Jeremiah came to observe - it was a bustling place of business, where God brought the prophet to teach him a lesson about the relationship between God and the nation of Israel - and all nations.  I think we might apply it to our own nation this morning.

"Just like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it." 

Over the past year or so, after reading the book, The Harbinger, I've been aware that God is sending us messages from heaven, here in America.  Not unlike the message He sent to and through Jeremiah, to ancient Israel, God is speaking to us as a nation in America.  We know the principle and the verses well.  We have been hearing them for nearly three decades now:

"If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven; I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."  2 Chron 7:14

In the past few months I've also heard again and again that there is a wave coming across our land - a wave that is both revival and judgement.  This will be one wave sent from God, that will be judgement on our nation and revival for God's people.  The question if one of our readiness.

The question is one of our playing "hide and seek" with God!  Playing "hide and seek" with our sin, our attitudes, our consumerism, our indebtedness, our selfishness on a cultural level - we tend to close our eyes and pretend its alright... pretend that it's not there.

David, the psalmist this morning, gives us a clear picture of what God sees when he looks at us.  Let's read those first 5 verses again together:

LORD, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
but you, O LORD, know it altogether.
You press upon me behind and before *
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.

He sees it all!  Can you say...  ALL?    All !!  He sees it all!

This is the nature of God - his omniscience - His all knowing, all seeing presence.  It is what we count on when we go to pray every day, multiple times in a day - we hope that God is listening!   And He is.  All the time, in every place, light or dark, good or bad.  He is.

Jesus' given Name by the prophet Isaiah, was EMMANUEL - God With Us.  

Do you have a sense of Jesus being with you as you go through your day?  Of Jesus being along side of you by His Spirit?   Of Jesus living inside of you to empower you, to direct you, to open doors for you for ministry - opportunities as you are on your daily journey?

Do you try to play Hide and Seek with the Holy Spirit?  Or do you try to pay attention to Him, to watch to see what He is doing and then to do that?


Jeremiah at the Potter's house gives us another lesson as well.  God's course of action in judgement is determined not by some fixed plan of events but by our hearts and by our attention and by our repentance and obedience to His Word sent to us.   If our hearts change, and our actions change, then the "evil" he is planning for us will change!

America need not be judged.  The word that is spoken to us is a personal word for each of us and a corporate word for all of us.  Our personal behavior and our corporate culture in America are inextricably bound together.  We are just a guilty of playing Hide and Seek with our sin on an individual basis as we are on a cultural basis.  That is the foundation of our cultural "blindness" to God and His Word, is the fact that we have all closed our eyes and are pretending we are not seen!

I want to spend a few moments in prayer this morning. . . confessing our tendency to play Hide and Seek with our sin; with our our behaviors that offend God and His Word.  This will be a time of silence - ask God to take your hand off your eyes!  

(short silence) 

God is the one who can enable us to not play Hide and Seek any more.  He is the one we must turn to for power to change our ways.  He is the one who is long suffering and whose love never fails.  He is the one who's mercy is made new every morning, as sure as the sunrise.  Let's go to Him, to Jesus and His Spirit.

(another Time of Silence)

Now pray with me again from our Psalm, the first and the last two verses:

LORD, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.

How deep I find your thoughts, O God! *
how great is the sum of them!
If I were to count them, they would be more in number than the sand; *
to count them all, my life span would need to be like yours.

Amen and Amen.

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