September 9, 2018 – Salem
After reading: Isaiah 35:4-7; Ps 146; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37
That’s what Jesus says to the man whose ears were closed. And the power of God entered his life, and changed his awareness of the world around him. He’s not just cured. He’s called.
On one level, Jesus speaks about how the man’s ears are closed, but there’s a deeper level to this command. Whenever we hear of Jesus healing someone physically, we should also be thinking of how He heals spiritually. Because in the first century, the Jewish people would have seen the two as connected. And when Jesus shows that He has power to make the deaf hear and the mute speak, it says something about His power to help us hear the spiritual message that He brings,and to say the words that others need to hear so that the same spiritual message continues to spread.
Did you know that this scripture passage is remembered in our baptisms? The Ephphetha – the opening – occurs after I pour water over the child’s head. I draw a cross on their ears and over their lips, blessing them, and saying, “May Christ soon touch your ears to receive His Word, and your mouth to proclaim His faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.”
In our baptism, we were called like this deaf man. We were called to open our ears to hear the word of God, to take it to heart. Every Sunday, you hear the Word of God proclaimed. Do you think about that message? Have you tried previewing the upcoming Sunday readings so you know what’s coming? Have you tried joining a Bible study, talking with a group that delves into those readings?
Through our baptism, we’re called to speak the good news that others need to hear. Our words make a difference. They can hurt people, or they can help people. Have you ever prayed for wisdom, so that our words will reflect God’s Word?
Like this man who was deaf and was opened through Christ, we’re called to live the Good News. And through our lives to show people that God is at work in the world; to be living signs so that others can know who Christ is, and what He can do. Our baptism leads us into a life of renewal, washing away sin and preparing us to live life in Christ. How are we doing with that?
What if someone came into our assembly with gold rings and fine clothes, and another came wearing shabby clothes, or saying the wrong things, or speaking a different language… What if you saw someone you already knew and you also noticed someone you’d never spoken to before? Who do we treat as brothers and sisters in Christ? Doesn’t our baptism call us to be open?
Aren’t we called to care for the welfare of others whoever they may be? God’s love goes out to every person. The salvation we receive through the cross of Christ is an invitation to everyone. How will they hear that invitation unless we live the Good News? How can we live the Good News unless we’re open to God’s Word?
So that we aren’t deaf to the needs of others, or mute in speaking the truth that God reveals.
So that God’s love and God’s grace can be seen through your lives.
So that Christ can place His healing hand on you to let you know forgiveness, and acceptance, and calling.
“May Christ soon touch your ears to receive His Word, and your mouth to proclaim His faith”