Sermons 2006

"Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Proper 18B 2006 Mark: 7:31-37

In that cluttered attic which passes for my mind these days, I sometimes wonder – especially as I age – which of my five senses is likely to begin to go first. I wonder which one or ones of them would bother me most if they were gone. I suspect that weight loss would be a lot easier if my sense of taste, especially concerning food, went away.

I think I could manage without a sense of smell -- that would also help reduce my appetite for food. But I would miss the smell of flowers, spring and autumn mornings, the sweet smell of grandchildren and puppy dogs. And I would certainly NOT miss the smell of the fish factory or warmed over road kill and carrion.

Managing without a sense of touch or tactile feeling could be dangerous. Touch warns of extremes of temperature, hot or cold. But I would miss the touch of another human, of petting dogs, holding children.

But I think that the really tough ones are seeing and hearing. I generally think that the loss of sight would be the hardest to bear. Blindness afflicted my great grandmother Scott in her fifties – she never saw the faces of her great grandchildren and how they changed as they grew up. She never saw the ever changing gardens of my grandmother Scott, who was her primary caregiver until the day my great grandmother died.

I would particularly miss seeing the faces of those I love, the beauty of each day, great art, my own painting, the sight of light and land and sky and water.

For many years I thought that I could manage without hearing. After all who needs the cacophonous onslaught of modern times as well as annoying electronic sounds, and general nagging about going to the gym regularly and other things. But I would miss terribly the voices of the people I love and of friends, good music, the sound of wind in sails and rigging, the soft sifflance of a sailboat’s bow wave and stern wake, the eagle’s shrill cry and the bluebird’s uppity song.

Pauli tells me that she thinks my hearing is going and she might be right. I know that the sound of tank cannon, the rattle of musketry and machine gun, and the crack of artillery rounds exploding eliminated a lot of the middle range of my hearing many years ago and I don’t think it has improved much since.

And so the story of the healing of the deaf man struck a responsive cord.

First an aside: the modern translations say that Jesus sighed, or gave a deep sigh, as he healed the deaf man. The King James is closer. The Greek word more accurately translates as Jesus “groaned”. It conveys to me the picture of the very tired human Jesus groaning with exertion as the divine Jesus summoned up the divine power to heal, a power that passed through, was channeled through, the hands of the Lord’s human body.

Even the word Jesus used – Ephphatha – was a word of power. Ephphatha: the Aramaic imperative equivalent to that of the Koine Greek word dianoigo, from dia –through -- and anoigo – to open. To open what before was closed, open as the first born opens the womb. To open the ears, eyes, understanding, and heart.

To open the eyes of anyone, that is, to cause to see what was not seen before. To open the mind, the heart, that is, to make able and willing to understand and receive. To open the Scriptures, to explain, expound. It also means having the “power of thought,” “understanding,” “the ability to perceive,” “the thinking consciousness and conscience”. Really to open all the physical and mental and psychological senses of a person.

Am I the only one who has ever had a conversation, discussion, and or argument with a spouse, parent, or child which ended with one stamping off while accusing the other that “You aren’t listening to me,” Or “I’m not listening to this any more!” Or digging in one’s heels and saying directly, simply, and forcefully, “Listen to me?”

Isn’t it really Ephphatha – “Open yourself to my self, open your ears, eyes, understanding, and heart to my ears, eyes, understanding, and heart.”?

The art of active listening, the practice of really hearing one another, is difficult to learn, hard to do, and often too easily forgotten in the heat or argument, discussion, and debate at the best of times and hardly considered or practiced in the worst of times. And so out the window often goes our commandment to love one another as Christ loves us, to love our neighbor as ourselves,

Is it really any different in our relationship with the God who loves us? The first and great commandment places a claim for our whole person, our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole spiritual life, and our whole strength. Shema Israel – Hear, O Israel -- in Greek, akoue Israel – begins the Great Summary of the Law – it’s in our Penitential Order, Rite II. Hear, O Israel.

Hear: To hear with attention, to obey, to learn by hearing. To understand, comprehend.

Ephphatha – “Open yourself to God’s self, open your ears, eyes, understanding, and heart to God’s ears, eyes, understanding, and heart.”



Wicomico Parish Church
PO Box 70
Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579