Easter 4A – The Voice
May 7, 2017
I’ve never had a good sense of direction.
So when I started Kindergarten long ago,
I was worried – I wasn’t sure how I was going to get home.
I didn’t have to walk home;
And I didn’t have to find the right bus home;
The only thing I had to do was leave the school on the correct side of the building –
the Livingston Avenue side…
and that would be where my mother would be parked to drive me home.
I remember getting anxious pretty much every day though,
that I would miss the cue –
that someday the older student who was the line leader would forget to come to my room,
or the teacher would forget to call out Livingston Avenue –
and I’d be completely lost –
I’d never find my way to my mother’s car and then home.
Each day there was the same routine.
One of the older kids would come to our classroom door,
And the teacher would call out:
“Bus students line up” – and then out the door they’d walk.
“Stratford Avenue line up” – and out the door they’d walk.
I was on pins and needles by this time!
But finally, the voice, “Livingston Avenue line up” came.
And every time – every time – I would breathe a sigh of relief…
I will get home one more day!
This story from the gospel of John
reminds me of my kindergarten class and listening for my name.
Jesus has just healed (the word is “saved” in Greek) a man blind from birth,
And the religious leaders are having a hard time believing
That someone like Jesus – someone who flaunts their rules –
could have such power.
They just don’t see it.
And Jesus says, ‘of course they don’t see it – they’re the true blind ones.’
Not only can they not see,
They don’t hear either.
They don’t hear the shepherd.
The shepherd goes into the sheep pen
And starts calling for his sheep.
Bus students follow me.
Stratford Avenue students over here.
Livingston Avenue students – it’s your turn.
The sheep hear the voice calling them and follow.
Far be it from me to know how sheep feel….but I think there’s a sense of relief!
I know that voice!
It’s for me!
I know where I belong…whom to follow!
Much of life as a person of faith is listening for that Voice.
Listening and then responding to that voice.
A number of years ago, RW Metlen wrote one of those books
that looks like it’s for children, but is really for adults.
It’s a fable called simply The Voice.
It begins with a man in a row boat who is fishing when a Voice says, “Follow me.”
He ignores the voice.
But then the boat springs a leak.
The man gets angry and blames the voice for the leaky boat.
The boat gets stuck,
and the man who can’t reach his oars, and can’t move the boat,
The Voice says again, “Follow me,”
But the man is afraid that if he gets out of the boat to follow the Voice he will drown.
The Voice speaks one more time.
It says, “Follow me,” and “I love you.”
At that, finally the man takes the risk,
steps out of the boat,
and he discovers that he can walk on water.
It’s hard to hear the Voice.
And even when we hear it – when we hear God calling us…
Sometimes we get in our own way…
We become angry – why is God trying to mess up our plans?
We get frustrated or even frightened about taking that first step.
But sometimes when we do take a risk and follow that call;
when we follow that hunch that God is calling us to follow;
when we get out of the boat;
we may discover that we can metaphorically walk on water.
The Voice is continually calling us.
If we knew exactly where it was calling us to, it would probably be less scary.
If we knew it was saying Livingston Avenue and that would be the way home,
It’d be less frightening.
But we usually don’t know exactly where the Voice is taking us.
Later this afternoon our Confirmation class is taking a neighborhood walk.
We’ll be walking on the sidewalks surrounding the church,
Observing the neighborhood and talking to the people we meet.
We want to know who our neighbors are;
What makes them tick;
What are the challenges in our neighborhood and what are the joys;
What are the concerns of the people living here;
What comes to mind when they think of Good Shepherd –
They may live a block away, but have they even heard of us?
Do they know what we are about?
Jesus says that he leads us to abundant life…
He doesn’t define what that is,
But I suspect it’s because the definition of abundant life is different for each of us.
This afternoon, we’ll seek to discover what abundant life is for our neighbors.
For the blind man, it was sight.
For new parents in our neighborhood, it may be sleep.
For frustrated commuters, it may be a working metro system.
For others in our neighborhood, abundant life may be relationships that are deeper than a wave or a short, ‘hello.’
Or it may be an opportunity to make a difference in a world
which sometimes seems increasingly callous to those who are poor or sick or different.
We don’t know exactly where the Voice will take us this afternoon,
but we’re willing to listen.
Sometimes you just have to get out of the boat.