Still Small Voices

In the still small voice of the cross of Christ, God declared once and for all that there is nothing we can face in life – nowhere we can go – no fear we can feel, no challenge we can face – where God has not already gone before to bring us back to Him and make abundant life possible.”

1 Kings 19:9-15

This has to be the single most challenging sermon I’ve given – both for how difficult it was for me to get through and also for the sense in which it undermines a lot of popular assumptions about what the Christian faith is and is for. A bit of background you should know before listening to the sermon – last summer we had a variety of really stressful things happen all at once. You’ll hear enough to gather a lot of the details, but what may not be evident is that this sermon came just after our last appointment with an infertility specialist. After trying for a couple of years overall and for several months or so with the specialist, we had just found out our last round of treatments didn’t work. This sermon came in the midst of grappling with what to do next.

Since that time, we’ve decided to adopt and we’ve gained a great deal of peace with that decision; but this sermon came at one of the most chaotic and challenging times of my life. In many ways, it is the most deeply personal way I could articulate an answer to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” Between this and the previously posted sermon, “Here is the Lamb of God,” I think I’m finally beginning to articulate an understanding of my own theory of the atonement – one based on vulnerability and relationship far more than debt, victory, substitution, or ransom.

Here is the Lamb of God

“In those moments when all that we are is on the line, we are met by the one who came so that even death itself shall die. The temptation will always be around to not care, to not love, to not open ourselves up to the possibility of pain; but at that moment – when it feels like everything we’ve longed for is being taken away – that is the moment when God is most present, offering all that He is to mend our broken hearts and heal our deepest wounds.”

John 1:29-36 & Genesis 22:1-19

This was one of the most difficult sermons I’ve ever preached, but also (or maybe because it) expresses one of the most central convictions of my theology. The Christian faith is not a means of knowing enough to be in control, but of finding the embrace of God when we are finally willing to give up control and risk all that we truly are. If I’m right, we almost always look at theology in the wrong direction. The vulnerability of relationship comes first, which in turn creates the space for words of faith to do and mean something true.