Synopsis: God is in silence. This sermon encourages you to appreciate silence and to seek out moments of stillness to connect with God. Using the story of Elijah, I emphasize that God is always with us, even in times of stress and overwhelm, and can be found in the silence. I also encourage you to not push yourselves too hard and to remember that God’s grace is always present.
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, Jan. 29, 2023, 1 Kings 19:12-13
Pastor John Kim, Lakeridge Lutheran Church
May the grace and love of God be with you! God is almighty and our God is meek. His invitations to His love are always gentle, meek, and amiable. But at the same time, he is more powerful than anything else, even if everything disappears, he is forever. I believe that God has called you to this place of worship. I bless you to enter into the fullness of God.
Before the sermon, I would like to give you a task that may be a little uncomfortable for you. Let’s stay in silence for a moment. I won’t say anything for about a minute. (Silence…)
Silence can make us uncomfortable. Especially you may expect that I would keep talking for my sermon, but an unexpected pause could become weird for you.
However, silence is not always uncomfortable in all situations. You can get the energy of peace from the calm morning lakeside. You can get a lot of energy when you walk alone on the charming trail. How is the experience of mystery in silence? As you pray, you may enter a sudden stillness where you feel neither time nor space. When you see God standing in that silence, you could be astonished. Well, you will get infinite delight in that special moment.
As an example, let’s talk about Elijah. He met God in silence. Let me tell you more about him. He was a champion of the faith. He had 99 wins out of 100. He lost only one. Well, it was a miserable loss. I got that. But it wasn’t too bad. He could start again. Yet, he gave up. He declared that I can’t do anymore. He became negative, sarcastic, and hopeless. For him, everything was considered to be meaningless. He had offered his whole life for God’s work, yet he had nothing left. Yes, nothing left for him, but he earned God. God’s grace never left him.
When Elijah got stressed, and overwhelmed, God gently called him back to himself, Mount Horeb-the mountain of God. Elijah stood on that mountain. A wind blew and broke the rocks. But God wasn’t there. An earthquake happened. But God wasn’t there in that earthquake. Wildfires happened. But God wasn’t even in that fire. After that fire, when silence came, God was there in the silence. Elijah heard the sound of fine cessation of a strong movement of air. Everything went into a vacuum. Everything stopped… time and all creatures in that space. There was no one and nothing in that space and time, but only God and Elijah.
Let me tell you about my experience of meeting God. I met Him in silence. Time seemed to stop. I didn’t even feel the space. I was at a church for morning devotion time. But when I entered into the moment of silence, I couldn’t recognize where I was. Nothing there but there was only me and God. In that silence, God’s voice was magnificent and huge like the sound of thunder. Was I afraid? No. The sound was powerful enough to split rocks but warm like sunshine in late springtime. I was nothing. I was a wretch. I was an insignificant person in the world. But by grace, I owned God. Don’t ask me how. It was given to me unconditionally. I was nothing but God was everything to me. Then everything became mine. I was a horrible person, but God was so abundant and incredibly attractive. When he put me in his bosom, I became the most glorious person.
Returning to the story of Elijah, silence is not limited by time and space. This means you do not have to go to the mountain of God to meet Him. The mountain isn’t special or holy, but God is holy. That silence is not limited by time. You don’t have to wait until 10 am on Sunday worship to get God’s favor. Now, God’s grace is full and overflowing. Every moment, stay focused on the present. The place where you are is a holy place to meet God.
Let us look at our lives. We have full responsibilities and tasks to do. How many tasks do you have on your to-do list? We will have 2023’s annual meeting right after this service. How many matters do we need to carry on this year? Hopefully, our annual meeting won’t be long, but after this meeting, for this year, I expect that we will have a lot of matters that we need to take care of.
Besides church business, you may have extremely heavy schedules due to your work, your family (taking care of your kids), and home projects.
Sometimes, you couldn’t sleep because your brain is still working even though your work is done for that day.
You may want to do something new with your vision and your dream. But you could have lost direction. Even if you don’t know where you could start. Don’t push yourself too much!
God’s grace is right there with you. God is working in silence. In Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 19, who made straight everything that people had got messed up? Yes, God had done it whether Elijah recognized that or not!
Even in the natural world, in silence, there is the vigorous activity of all creation. It’s just that we can’t hear it with our ears, but in fact, the planets in the universe generate tremendous noise as they rotate and revolve. But those noises are beyond our audible frequencies, so we just can’t hear them. What about blood in our bodies? The heart pumps blood non-stop. It makes a sound as the blood spreads throughout the body. Again, it makes noise when it is traveling and electrically sparking, but those noises are beyond our audible frequencies. So, we count that sound as silence.
God is calling you gently to the stage of calmness, the moment of silence. God is working in silence. You are not alone. Let’s shake off those thoughts such as we have to do everything by ourselves, or we have to control everything. We can put our heavy responsibilities down and depend on God.
Even if you failed. If the situation turns really miserable, don’t be overwhelmed by that circumstance. Even if you have lost, you don’t know where you could start, don’t consider you lose your dream and vision. Right there in that silence, in the moment of nothing happening, wait for God alone. Nothing is left, but you have God. And now you have everything.