Summary: Spirit filled Christians are light-bearers and grace speakers.
Title: The Importance of Being Seen and Heard
Text: Acts 2:1-13
Thesis: Spirit-filled Christians are light-bearers and love-speakers.
This week I read about a woman who, as a child, often heard her German immigrant great-grandmother repeat: “Kleine Kinder sollten wie Fische am Tische sein.”
She said that as a young woman, while taking German in college, she managed a loose translation: “Little children should be like fish at the table.” (Quiet)
We have all heard a similar adage: “Children should be seen but not heard.” It was a way of saying that when in the presence of adults, children should be silent. It was something said as a way of rebuking a child who had spoken when he or she should not have done so. Perhaps you have had a parent or another adult give you that look of disapproval followed by, “Children are to be seen but not heard.”
Some say the idea of being seen but not heard has sexist origins. The thought being, women are inferior to men and therefore should not be allowed to express their opinions. A woman’s role is to look pretty, stay in the background, and agree with whatever her husband says. And some say that the original application of the adage, “Children should be seen but not heard” was actually intended for young girls.
The implication of either origin suggests that children and women are okay to have around but they should be quiet. We don’t mind the presence of a polite, well-behaved child so long as we don’t have to listen to him. We don’t mind the presence of attractive and well-mannered women so long as they do not think or speak for themselves.
It seems some people seek the spot-light and the microphone while others prefer to be neither seen nor heard. They prefer anonymity. There are those of us who do not want or need to be the center of attention… It is safer that way.
Case in point, Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Solomayor should have kept her head down and her mouth shut in her 2001 speech on Issues Facing Latino Judiciary symposium in which she said, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
(In her defense… I am quite certain that I said things in 2001 that I would not say today.)
University of Denver law professor, Nancy Wadsworth says the brouhaha is an example of classic white-male privilege in which, “White males think they make all decisions in the abstract, in some vacuum.” In other words, white male men are able to make more objective decisions than women of ethnic heritage because they are not affected intellectually by life experiences. Men are more objective than women. (Michael Booth, Supreme Court nominee’s quote sparks flap, The Denver Post, 5/28/09)
(One could say it is another instance of where a woman should be seen but not heard…)
However, there is some wisdom to being unseen and unheard. If you don’t do anything and don’t say anything no one can accuse you of wrong doing or misspeaking.
But being unseen and unheard directly contradicts God’s intent for those who follow Christ. In the story of Pentecost, the arrival of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s affect on the Christians gathered there, signaled that we are to be seen and heard in the world.
The first evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the lives of Christians is visible.
I. The presence of the Holy Spirit makes us light-bearers.
Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. Acts 2:3
I want to say just two things about the significance of the flame on the day of Pentecost.
A. The image of a flame is not lost on the Christian Church.
The tongues of fire indicate the presence of God not only in the place but resting on each person. In the Old Testament the presence of God was evident as the Israelites wandered in the wilderness in that they were led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The cloud and the fire indicated the presence and leading of God.
This morning a Christ candle burns on our altar as a visible reminder of God’s presence among us.
B. The image of being light is also a favorite metaphor for Jesus.
The most quoted reference is from his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:14ff, “You are the light of the world – like a city on a mountain glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”