“This is food week, and I am here to give you some soul food. We cook with salt because we are the salt of the earth and we cook with a little sugar to say, ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good,’ ” said the Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook at the 9:15 a.m. Thursday morning worship service in the Amphitheater.
Her sermon title was “Hearing God,” and the Scripture reading was 2 Samuel 5:11-25.
When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king, they went to the valley of Rephaim and waited for him. David went from Jerusalem to his stronghold to ask God what he should do.
God told him to go up against the Philistines and God would deliver them into David’s hands.
The Philistines came a second time, and David again asked God if he should go up against them. This time God said no, to go behind them and wait for the sound of marching in the trees, then strike.
David’s past experience led him to his current experience of God, to listen for God to guide him.
“David was a king, leader, international influencer, husband and father. He was the commander-in-chief, so impactful he had a city named after him,” Cook said.
Some people are celebrators, some people are tolerators, and “we will always have haters. They may go away for a while but they are not dead,” she said.
David killed Goliath, and the next generation of Philistines had a long memory and was looking for revenge.
“They showed up, acted up and told David, ‘We have something for you,’ ” Cook said.
Cook said David could not fight alone, he had to hear from God. He had to ask God, “How do I handle this one?”
“Like Michelle Obama says, ‘When they go low, we go high,’ ” she added.
God told David he would put the battle into his hands. David listened to the strategy of the Holy Spirit and won, then burned the idols of the Philistines.
David went back to his city and again the message came that his enemies were back in the valley of Rephaim.
“When you have an enemy rejecting you, you need God protecting you, and perhaps redirecting you,” Cook said.
God redirected David to not face the Philistines directly, but to go behind them and listen for the wind.
“David was used to the fields and the trees,” she said. “God will speak to you from that which you know.”
If you want to be the victor, she said, you need some serious soul strategy. God will speak if you will listen. In order to hear God, you have to have a connection with God, “for your protection from man’s rejection.”
At her summer house in Sag Harbor, Cook has the “triple play” — internet, television and phone service in one package. After she had it installed, the internet and the television were working fine but the landline was not.
“I followed the cord and found that I had no connection, I needed to be plugged in,” she said. “We need to be plugged in to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit — the triple play of prayer.”
The second soul strategy was to follow in faith, not in fear.
“David was not afraid. He depended on God to protect him,” Cook said. “As Paul said, ‘When I am weak, I know God is strong.’ ”
She said there are still enemies and there is still evil today.
“Just when we thought racism and ‘supremism’ were dead, Charlottesville and Ferguson happened,” she said. “As a nation we need to humble ourselves and turn to God in prayer. We need to put on our spiritual headphones so we can hear God more clearly.”
The third soul strategy was to remember that God will speak through what is familiar.
“If you are still enough and chill enough, you will know God is God,” she said. “You will hear answers in the simplest things.”
The fourth soul strategy was to clean up the old life between victories. This nation, she said, is going to have to burn some idols to be great again.
“Evil is still around,” Cook said. “They may have taken off their hoods, but they are not gone forever.”
Cook said that God puts us in structures we never dreamed of. God took David the shepherd and made him David the King.
“I have gone from a walk up tenement in the Bronx to Chautauqua,” she said. “I am a sharecropper’s daughter who walked in the front door of the White House. My mother used an outhouse and I went to the White House.”
What a mighty God we serve, she said.
“I want to hear you when you speak, God, and share your love with all my heart, mind, soul and spirit,” Cook said. “I heard you, use me, send me.”
In closing, she led the congregation in “I See the Lord, High and Lifted Up.”
The Rev. Scott Maxwell presided. Rosa Linda (Rosie) Guadarrama read the Scripture. She is a deaconess and a certified lay minister with the United Methodist Church and is presently working on her doctor of ministry degree at Claremont School of Theology. She has been part of Knitting4Peace since its inception; teaching women to knit and crochet locally as well as abroad and providing Peace Pals to children in Haiti, Cambodia and Costa Rica. She is a Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle graduate and a member of the Guild of the Seven Seals. She is a retired hospital administrator who presently serves as an arbitrator and has an inclusive practice in Reiki, Yoga and Ayurveda. The prelude, performed by Barbara Hois, flute, and Joe Musser, piano, was “Sonata for Flute and Piano” by Francis Poulenc. The Motet Choir, under the direction of Jared Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music, sang “How Can I Keep From Singing?” arranged by Z. Randall Stroope. The Mr. and Mrs. William Uhler Follansbee Memorial Chaplaincy and the Daney-Holden Chaplaincy Fund provide support for this week’s services.