Pastor Nate’s Peace…
Do you hear what I hear?
Christmas song written by Noel Regney & Gloria Shayne Baker
in 1962 at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis as a plea for peace.
It was a strange moment as I rounded the turn from the library at church to head back to my study for preparations to write a sermon. It was a sound that grabbed my attention as it filled the hallway. Was that a brass instrument? Why, yes it was. It was a tuba and trombone coming from the choir loft. Then another sound filled the air. As I took more steps toward my office, it was the phone ringing and Pastor Sarah picked it up to answer. Music and phones and then came another sound, a vacuum cleaner. Picking up the debris of activity that had taken place from the day before. Any one of these could be a distraction or a bother, but in that moment, as all three sounds filled the hallway, what I heard was ministry.
Distinctly different, all three sharing a ministry; the ministry of music being practiced for a worship service that will happen in the weeks to come; the ministry of answering the call to someone in need on the other end; and the ministry of cleaning and organization after being open to our community to use our facility to support others. As we get ready for the holiday season, I couldn’t help but think of what it must have been like for various people to hear the sound of God’s call.
As I sat down in my study I opened my Bible to the gospel of Matthew thinking about the popular Christmas song Do You Hear What I Hear? I wanted to read the story of the shepherds hearing the angels announce the coming of baby Jesus. As I flipped to the gospel, to my amazement, I couldn’t find that particular story in this gospel. However, what I did find was Joseph hearing the voice of angel in a dream. Three times an angel will give him instruction. The first time was that Mary’s child would be the Messiah (Matthew 1:20-21). In the second dream an angel from God appeared to Joseph and told him how to protect the child’s life by escaping to Egypt (2:13). Then, a third dream came to him that Jesus’ life was no longer in danger in Judea and Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Nazareth in the district of Galilee.
Hearing God, perhaps through other means is important in our days filled with commitments and tight schedules, family functions and social parties at this time of the year. As we enter an important time of the year to remember God in our worship, with our families, friends and co-workers may we hear the voice of God, the ministry of being engaged with the cares and needs of others that surround us and to respond with thankfulness and an openness for peace and goodwill to all.