What Exactly Did Horton Hear? (7/17/16)

Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 in Sermons | 1 comment

 Dr. Seuss may have written a series of “Children’s Books,” but he usually packed a message that spoke to us too.  In the immediate aftermath of World War 2, Dr. Seuss wrote a book called “Horton Hears a Who” to express his personal challenge of accepting the Japanese as fellow humans instead of evil enemies.  “A Person’s a person, no matter how small.”

In the divided atmosphere of today, how does this speak to us now?  How can we listen and hear the cries of others?  The whole world is groaning; do we as His Church hear the groans?  Are we willing to be like Isaiah who said “Here am I.  Send me.”???  How can we BE the answer???

The following recording is from the 11:00 service.  Click on the play button, then scroll down to follow along…


Our scripture reading was from Romans 8:18-25.  Open the below drop down box to follow along.  The New Living Translation is shown…

Romans 8:18-25

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.

20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope,

21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.

24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it.

25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)



A Person’s a Person, No Matter How Small…

Dr. Seuss wrote the book, “Horton Hears a Who!” in 1954.  It’s a lovable, Dr. Seuss story featuring that large, loving elephant, named Horton. The book tells the story of Horton the Elephant who…

“On the fifteenth of May, in the Jungle of Nool,

In the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool, He was splashing…enjoying the jungle’s great joys…

When Horton the elephant heard a small noise So Horton stopped splashing. He looked toward the sound,

“That’s funny,” thought Horton. “there is no one around.” Then he heard it again! Just a very faint yelp, as if some tiny person were calling for help. “I’ll help you,” said Horton, “But who are you?” “Where?”

Seuss- Horton Hears a Who- cover _400x550

What Horton hears is a small speck of dust talking to him. It turns out the speck of dust is actually a tiny planet, home to a city called ‘‘Whoville’’, inhabited by microscopic-sized inhabitants known as Whos and led by a character known as the mayor. The entire world of the Whos’—including Whos of all ages, with houses, streets, churches, and a grocery store—exist on a tiny speck of dust too small for the elephant to see. BUT Horton is able to hear them loud and clear, and he makes it his mission to protect his tiny, defenseless, friends.  He was able to recognize and identify that there was a need.

The Who’s ask Horton (who, though he cannot see them, is able to hear them quite well) to protect them from harm, which Horton happily agrees to do, proclaiming throughout the book that ‘‘even though you can’t see or hear them at all, a person’s a person, no matter how small.”


A Person’s… Made in God’s Image!

Genesis 1:26 tells us that we are made in the image of God…

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like ourselves. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

Genesis 1:26-28, NLT

Are we as a nation going wrong in how we keep coming up with things that separate us?  How many different labels and titles do people need to wear???  

Jesus says that we’re all one.  We’re all in this thing together.  We can’t keep hiding behind titles and labels.

Humans are made in God’s image.  They are valuable, but they are also fragile and need protection…

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

Matthew 13:45-46

With much care and precision, Horton places the speck of dust that houses the entire world of the Whos, onto a clover for safekeeping.  He was giving it the very best he could.  He didn’t know the details about the needs; he was just doing his best to respond.  He wasn’t even going to ask them what class they belonged to, or what party they’re from, or which side of the tracks they live on.


God’s People WILL Encounter Opposition…

It can’t be helped.  Any time you try to do something to make the world a better place, there’s going to be criticism coming at you.   And, true to real life, Horton ran into opposition when he tried to protect these little “whos.”   In trying to protect the citizens of Whoville, Horton is ridiculed and insulted because no one else is able to hear the desperate cries of the Who’s.

FRIENDS, whenever you’re trying to remain faithful to Christ and do the work of Christ in the world, whenever Christians try to reach out “to the least of these” as Jesus says in Matthew 25:40, there are going to be those who criticize.

Matthew 25:40

Matthew 25:31-40…

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!

The other animals in the Jungle of Nool, however, are convinced that Horton is not all together well. The other animals decide to make fun of Horton and to take the clover away. His chief tormentors are Vlad Vladikoff, the Wickersham Brothers and the Sour Kangaroo.  Dr. Seuss is saying that whenever you try to do good in the world, you’re going to get nailed for it.

The Christian Church and it’s mission and ministry has been misunderstood by an unbelieving world for centuries. Many negative comments born out of ignorance have levied against the Church. BUT as goes the Holy Spirit of God, so must the Church go.

  • Aren’t you glad that Mother Teresa didn’t listen to criticism?
  • Aren’t you glad that Dr. Martin Luther King didn’t give in?
  • Aren’t you glad that the Protestant Reformers didn’t yield to the criticism?
  • Aren’t you glad that John Wesley ignored the criticism?
  • … Aren’t you glad that Jesus didn’t give into the criticism???

Mother Theresa said, “do good anyway…”


Take a Stand- Remain Focused…

People in the world will mock us for our faith, “Come on… don’t take this Jesus stuff too far.”

Think about the criticism football player Tim Tebow took for his faith, and Carrie Underwood and her husband NHL player Mike Fisher have taken for their faith. Yet they remain focused.   They like Horton, did not listen to the negative energy and remained focused on the One who can bring change.

Horton continues on his mission. He wasn’t about to listen to the criticism and give in.  He didn’t mind if they “took his pew on Sunday.” He put the speck down on a clover and an Eagle came along, took the clover away, and dropped it into a clover field.  The Whos were on a speck which was on a clover which was now in a field containing millions of other clovers! In order to find one speck of dust on one clover, Horton had to search through the entire clover field.  But he didn’t decide that he didn’t have the resources.  He didn’t give up.  He just said, “OK.  I guess I’m done swimming for today.”

Many people in our day and age probably would have given up.  They would have used human logic such as,

  • “Well, we just don’t have the financial resources to that anymore”
  • or we don’t have the human resources to continue that”;
  • or “do you realize how long it’s going to take us to look through a field of 13 million clovers when we trying to find one specific one! 

Horton didn’t give in to the latest opinion poll.  He kept on seeking through 13 million clovers.  His determination and commitment paid off as Horton eventually found the clover with the speck of dust!

“whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.”

By now the other animals have grown tired of Horton and his speck of dust. They decide they are going to put him in a cage for believing in something that they are unable to see or hear.

Horton tells the Whos that, unless they want to end up being boiled in ‘‘Beezelnut Oil,’’ they need to make themselves heard to the other animals. Horton is desperate, He pleads with the Whos to make the loudest noise they can so everyone can hear them and thus believe Horton.


Just One Voice…

The Whos try, but it’s not enough. Only Horton’s ears are sensitive enough to hear the cries of the Whos. FINALLY, the mayor of Whoville, discovers that there is one small Who, in fact the smallest one of all named JoJo, who was not making a sound.

JoJo is someone who has given up.  “Nope, won’t do it.  I tried once before.  Won’t work.  Check it off.”

But once  JoJo jumps in and joins the chorus, the rest of the animals are able to hear, and the civilization of Whoville is saved! Change doesn’t happen until JoJo jumps in.  Once he does, others become convinced of the Whos’ existence and Horton’s neighbors vow to help him protect the tiny community.

In 1979, Barry Manilow recorded a song entitled “One Voice.”  The track didn’t include backup vocalists.  Instead, Manilow’s voice is dubbed into the background to reach a crescendo of him singing with 40 “backup singers.”  The song opens with the following lyrics:

“Just one voice, singing in the darkness

All it takes is one voice

Singing so they hear what’s on your mind  And when you look around you’ll find there’s more than one voice…”

Like  this song, once that One Voice- JoJo got involved, things began to happen.  People and causes became unified.


Answer the Groaning…

In reading this story, we may find it easy to identify with the Whos on many different levels. Many of us feel as if we’re are in a situation where no one is listening, no one caring, no one willing to go the second mile for you. We’re all groaning.  God is looking for One Voice to be added to another voice, and to another voice…. “Could I have but one voice who would speak up?”

Are you willing to be a voice?  Not just in here where it’s safe, but out in the world. 


PokMon Signboard _IMG_0064

The whole world has gone PokeMon mad!  People walking around with cell phones are seeking our church to find PokeMon items.  But can we take this opportunity to tell them about the True Treasure that the Church has to offer???  This fad has given us the chance to be a voice in the world.

If something that’s on a phone (that’s not even real) can bring unity, how much more can the Church (which has the Real Answer), have an influence and bring unity?



– – – – – – – – – – 

The following text was in the written notes, but not in the spoken sermon…
Warning:  Just because this part of the sermon is “hidden” under a “learn more box,” doesn’t mean it’s exempt from the quiz!

Click here to learn more


OVER THE PAST DECADE OR SO our country and the world seems to be developing a growing spirit of disunity and the focus it might be argued is more on what divides us rather than unites us.  Take a  look at what Paul wrote to the Romans (Romans 8:22)…

For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

He goes on to say (Romans 8:23)…

And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.  

The human family is “groaning” while we wait for our adoption to heaven. (John Wesley would call it groaning for our day of perfection). CLEARLY, the world is “groaning” right now.


Paul Was Groaning Too…

Paul and the Christians of the 1st Century understood what we face in our groanings today. They lived under a divided religious system as this new system called Christianity emerged.   They lived during a time of extreme persecution against Christians, and there were many religious systems being presented and enforced.. Yet Christian leaders like Paul, Peter and others,  kept reminding believers to keep their focus on Christ, on His Word, and know that the presence of God gives hope for the future.


But keep Your Focus on God’s Presence…

It would have been easy for our ancestors to give up on the faith, to give in to the ways of the world, to stop hearing the cries of the poor, the widowed, the disenfranchised as Moses, the prophets, the Apostles, and Jesus Himself said to care for in the world. Many of us for a variety of reasons are “groaning.” You watch the news just as I and are just as appalled at what we see taking place in our country and around the world. AND perhaps we feel like the residents of Whoville, that no one is listening, no one really cares, there’s no one on the horizon who can help. There is a growing sense, it seems, that perhaps there is no one is able to do anything about our situation.



Speak up!  The Church has The Answer!

The most important message in the Bible is that the love and grace of God has come to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, and because of His life, death on the cross, and resurrection, the world can be redeemed.

There’s a great hymn (“We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations“).  Its four verses challenge us with the following lyrics…

We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right,

a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light, a story of peace and light.

We’ve a song to be sung to the nations, that shall lift their hearts to the Lord,

a song that shall conquer evil and shatter the spear and sword, and shatter the spear and sword.

We’ve a message to give to the nations, that the Lord who reigneth above hath sent us his Son to save us,

and show us that God is love, and show us that God is love.

We’ve a Savior to show to the nations, who the path of sorrow hath trod,

that all of the world’s great peoples might come to the truth of God, might come to the truth of God.

As this hymn suggests, we are called to give a message, and it’s is one of hope.   It is a story which shows that there are people who care.

  • LIKE HORTON, are we listening?
  • Like HORTON are we responding?
  • LIKE HORTON are willing to take an unpopular stand?
  • LIKE HORTON are we willing to take a risk to ensure that the voice of the Whos from Whoville are heard?



Stand up!  Take a Risk…

There’s another great hymn of our faith entitled “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus!”  The hymn, consistent with the Bible, teaches us that we’re in a battle; God is constantly facing opposition and so will we if we stand up for Jesus.  Horton’s experience gives us an example to look towards. Horton was willing to take a risk, to sacrifice, to risk his reputation, to go against popular opinion, willing to in the words of Jesus, “to lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Dr. Seuss tells us that Horton was ridiculed and insulted by those around him. Yet it didn’t deter him and he didn’t take his eye off of his goals and purpose.

I suspect the kind and gentle elephant could have become distracted and focused on the insults and opinions of those critics around him. That would have taken him away from his purpose and those he was being called to help would have suffered, BUT Horton remained focused on his calling, concentrated on his bigger purpose.

Jesus did that and Jesus calls us to do the very same thing.

Who are OUR Vlad Vladikoff’s, Wickersham Brothers, and Sour Kangaroo’s who continue to serve as critics and offer up constant reminders on why the church can’t do this or that?

 God’s people must remain vigilant in keeping our focus on Christ, listening for the call of Christ upon our lives, and upon all He has called us to serve in the world.

Horton had many other voices and opinions which could have distracted him, yet he heard the most important voices and remained attentive.  We must do the same thing.

In the United Methodist Church we have what is called Shared Ministry. In our church’s newsletter, I featured what they are and offered explanations of what each is and what the monies are used for. I explained that by uniting ourselves we are able to care for the “Whos” of this world wherever their “Whoville” is on the planet.

PUMC has always contributed 100% of the asking until the past couple of years. Our Leadership Team agrees with me that God is calling us to return to contributing 100% so the Gospel of Christ may go forth on a larger scale and the “Whos” of the world can be cared for.

It might take sacrifice, but we must maintain our focus for the sake of Jesus and the Whos of this world.


Stick up- For God! 

Here’s another hymn that we song a lot:  “This is My Father’s World.”  It’s GOD’s world, not ours.  God has designed our existence so that everything revolves around Jesus Christ.  But the world wants to claim things for itself.  People like to pull things into their own orbit, and take things away from God.  And so, as His people, we are called to “Stick Up” for God.

Psalm 104:27-30 tells us that God provides for everything He has made—wild animals, birds, domestic animals, and man…

They all depend on you to give them food as they need it.

When you supply it, they gather it.

You open your hand to feed them, and they are richly satisfied.

But if you turn away from them, they panic.

When you take away their breath, they die and turn again to dust.

When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.   

We totally depend on God, so why is it that so many people want to pretend that they’re fully self sufficient and don’t need God’s help?  Check out these verses…

Psalm 121:1-2    I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!


Psalm 121:2 comforts us with it is “the Maker of heaven and earth” who provides for His people and protects them.

Genesis 8:20-22 20   Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose.  And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”


Even the seasons attest to God’s bountiful provision; their regularity and dependability give testimony to God’s faithfulness to his promise to Noah in Genesis 8:22.

Colossians 1:15-17    Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,  for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.  He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.


Paul states clearly that Jesus Christ “is before all things and all things are held together in him” as we saw in our study last October (sermon series called “The Supremacy of Christ”). Jesus Christ sustains the whole natural creation; there is not a molecule in the universe that does not fall under his sovereignty.


Show Up- And Make a Difference!

C. S. Lewis reminds us, “There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”

If everything is claimed by God and Counterclaimed by Satan, God’s people need to stand up and be counted!  We need to show up and make a difference!  And that’s a battle, because we have so many competing options (excuses)…  What if__  :

  • WHAT IF HORTON had thrown his tusks up in the air and so, “Oh well. Those people from Whosville are different then me; they are not on the same economic level as me; they are from a different social class… “
  • WHAT IF HORTON waited for a law to be passed;  until it became popular to respond to the Who’s?  Horton didn’t wait until the Who’s were featured on the evening news. He knew what the right thing to do was and he simply did it.
  • WHAT IF HORTON offered any other lame excuse for not responding…  what would have happened to them?


OK.  That’s a Dr. Seuss story about an imaginary elephant.  But what about Christians? What about God’s people? What about us? Do we hear the cries of others?  Do we hear Go calling us?  And do we respond like Isaiah…

Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”

I said, “Here I am. Send me.”  (Isaiah 6:8)


Or do we respond like Moses…

 But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.”  (Exodus 4:13)

– – – – – – – – – – 


Go Forth and Give the Answer…

Jesus Christ is The Answer to all the problems we’re facing on a  global scale today.  Then if you and I really believe it, we need to be like Horton and get out there and invite others to join our One Voice.

Malaga Camp (and even the Purple Potty scholarship fundraiser) and what God just accomplished through our Vacation Bible School are examples of how we can leave our own “Jungles of Nool” and answer God’s call to ease the groanings of a needy world. 

We must, like Horton, hear the cries of other people, no matter how small or insignificant they may be in the eyes of the world. Scripture is clear as is the example of Jesus, that all of God’s people must be taking special care of the “Who’s of our world.  ChapelWin- Good Shepherd _DCP_7051xCropSheep

As we would desire that God hear our cries, we must be hearing the cries of the widows, orphans, prisoners, disenfranchised, downtrodden, and marginalized in our society and world.  A lot of people out there are feeling like the Who’s of Whoville.  We need to bring the Answer (Jesus) to remind them that no matter how weak our cries, God hears…  God is listening! God is with us and God is wanting to respond on our behalf.

May we, like Horton, always be listening to the faint cries of others and be swift to be the body of Christ for them. FRIENDS, our world needs a word a hope, a word of encouragement, a word to enable all to face the future unafraid. LIKE HORTON, we know the answer.

Now, like the lovable elephant, let’s go forth and BE the answer.




Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…


Except as noted, all Bible quotations in this post are from the , New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.


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