Daily Devotion 22 May 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Acts 4: 13, 18-20 ‘Voices’

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus… 18 So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; 20 for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ 

The phone rings. We pick it up and listen. Isn’t it interesting how we all have unique identifiable voices? Voices play a prominent role in the early chapters of Acts, alongside the metaphors of wind and fire used to describe the Spirit empowering the disciples. Wind, fire and voices – a powerful trio! At Pentecost, the disciples discover their collective voice as the Holy Spirit gets to work on them. With confidence and boldness, they engage in open-air preaching and teaching to great effect. Peter and John are subsequently arrested and the questioning lawyers are amazed to hear uneducated northern fishermen defend themselves eloquently and at the same time witness to their belief in the crucified yet ‘alive’ Christ.

A gospel passage speaks of sheep who recognize and respond to the voice of their shepherd (John 10:4). The implication is that we too can train our ears and hearts to recognise and respond to the ‘voice’ of our shepherding Jesus. Likewise, a well -known hymn begins – “I heard the voice of Jesus say”. So, what might Jesus through his Spirit be saying to us?

The Spirit may well speak to us through an inner voice prompting us as we pray and ponder. It may help us to find our own unique voice and not be ashamed or embarrassed by it. It will ask us to encourage and be patient with those who have difficulty speaking and/or hearing. The Spirit of Christ asks is to give a voice to those who feel they have no voice, not least the victims of discrimination and poverty. It will also expect us to listen carefully to those same voices and to act on their behalf. The Spirit may call some to preach and/or teach the Gospel message. It can also act as an Advocate – a witness for the defence when our faith is undermined, ridiculed or questioned. It might even challenge us to rethink aspects of our faith, if necessary.

The Spirit of Christ prompts us to often speak with a quiet voice, like a gentle breeze or a candle flame, as we pray, and exercise pastoral care. It will also help us to speak with a strong declaratory voice, like a gusty wind or a controlled flame on a gas cooker, as we state clearly the essence of the teachings of Christ. On occasions the Spirit will expect us to shout, like a gale force wind or a raging fire as we express justifiable anger against cruelty, war, environmental neglect, homelessness or hunger. And let’s not forget the Spirit infused power of singing giving voice to a quiet meditative refrain or a rousing hymn of exaltation and praise.

Both ‘wind power’ and ‘fire power’ enable us to use our voices and our ears creatively. Whenever and however creativity happens, there the Spirit of Jesus is at work. Oh, and by the way, when you next answer your phone, you will not directly hear the voice of Christ… but indirectly you might well do so! Think about it.

Prayer:

May the wind of the Spirit invigorate our hearts.
May the fire of the Spirit warm our hearts.
May voices that convey the Spirit speak to and from our hearts.
Amen.

Reflection and Prayer © 2021 Gordon Harrison.
Image freely available online.

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