Community Church Sermons
Rev. Dr. R. Tim Meadows
Nothing I say ever seems to get through. Nothing, absolutely nothing, ever seems to come back. I think part of the problem is I really do not know what to say. I fear I will say the wrong thing. I cannot seem to find the correct words to reflect what I need or how I feel. This task seems so difficult, so empty, so confusing, so necessary, and yet so hopeless.
The above words are my personal reflections of how I often feel about talking to God --- how frustrating the act of prayer can often be. On this day of Pentecost as we celebrate the coming of God’s Spirit to lead and speak on behalf of the church, I must confess that I often wonder where that Spirit is in my journey. I hope that the Spirit is my guide but I recognize that I am not a great communicator with the Spirit. I hope that the Spirit is my guide but I recognize that I often take paths not of the Spirit’s choosing. I hope that the Spirit is my guide but I confess that I am often a difficult traveling companion --- running ahead, lagging behind, making the journey more difficult than it has to be.
How about you? How about your journey? Maybe yours is simpler, clearer, easier than mine. Maybe your prayers are always answered clearly and promptly, or maybe your journey is like mine. If so, it is in part for people like us that Paul wrote the words of our New Testament lesson. From the earliest days of the Church until now, followers of God have struggled with communicating. Paul writes to give us some simple assurance, as we seek to talk with God. Paul offers a secret to communicating with God.
Paul tells us that the secret is to groan, that’s right, groan. Groan long and loud or soft and sobbing. Groan in anger, groan in pain, groan in disappointment. Groan because that visceral reaction comes from a place deep within you that cannot lie. Groan because that visceral reaction releases emotions from deep within you that cannot be expressed in understandable words. Groan because that visceral reaction from deep within you will place you vulnerably before God. Groan, Paul says, and all of creation groans with you, seeking wholeness from God.
Groaning is an activity most of us know. We groan in agony, we groan in pain, we groan in weariness, we groan in disgust, and sometimes we groan just to groan, and now Paul tells us to groan in prayer. Groaning is not an activity that we often associate with holiness, and yet, maybe we should.
When we groan at the injustice of our world --- that is holy, that is prayer.
When we groan for hurting people in our world --- that is holy, that is prayer.
When we groan for the hungry of our world --- that is holy, that is prayer.
When we groan for the oppressed of our world --- that is holy, that is prayer.
When we groan for the abused of our world --- that is holy, that is prayer.
When we groan for the poor of our world --- that is holy, that is prayer.
When we groan for the marginalized of our world --- that is holy, that is prayer.
When we groan over the missed opportunities to do good in our world --- that is holy, that is prayer.
When we groan for opportunities to do good in our world --- that is holy, that is prayer.
Groaning may seem like a hopeless copout but Paul suggests that it is sometimes the holiest thing we can do, because it allows us to eventually hear what the Spirit pleads on our behalf and thus what God wants us to do about the things we have been groaning about. So, Go ahead, GROAN! Groan for yourself, groan for your neighbor, groan for the world, groan knowing that the Spirit of Pentecost will hear your groans and answer them. May God give us the grace to groan as an act of holiness. AMEN!