Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Would Glasses or a Hearing Aid Help?

This past Sunday, at about minute 15 of the announcements, I lost all sense of being in church and in the presence of the Lord. I forced myself to close my eyes and ears in order to shut out all the thoughts of the places I had to go and the things I had to do that day. It worked, but I had to keep coming back to these old tried and true methods of quieting the mind in order to get through the rest of the service. Today's Gospel reading, Matthew 13:10-17, is helping me get back in focus.
Then the disciples came and asked him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ He answered, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that “seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.” With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: “You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.” But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.
The disciples were blessed to be in His presence, but not everyone who met Jesus saw or heard Him at the time. How do we obtain those blessed eyes and ears of which Jesus speaks? We like to think that one of the problems with modernity that keeps us from hearing God's call is the incessant noise of the information age. Even to those of us who do not have ADHD, work and the distractions of the ever increasing sources of entertainment available to please us can effectively drown out the voice of God. No, glasses or a hearing aid would just amplify the noise.

 Should we blame the computer, the television, or the bloggers for our walk apart from the Lord?

 What if we follow John Prine's advice?
"Turn off the T.V. Throw away your paper. Move to the country. Build you a home. Plant a little garden. Eat a lot of peaches. Try an find Jesus on your own." - "Spanish Pipedream" John Prine 1971
I am not sure if that would work either, but it might be a good start. Maybe it isn't the noise from the world that is the problem, maybe it is us, and we shouldn't blame the world because we don't connect with God. Maybe the problem lies between our ears. But just in case, would somebody please pass me the peaches?


  1. My two cents: I do think modern communication methods/devices have a way of intruding into our quiet time, but I also feel that we've grown intellectually dull, in that we no longer cultivate the ability to sit still with our own thoughts and ponder through them. People seem to be uncomfortable with themselves and therefore, must seek out constant companionship or diversion. Anything to keep from confronting what they are and allowing God to convict them of the true nature.


  2. Intellectually dull and lazy.

  3. Anonymous12:16 PM

    As a member of your congregation, I do not think you have yourself to blame for losing any religious connection (temporarily) during the lengthy and confused announcements. That part of the service seems to have gotten completely out of control.

    Simply reading the psalms in the prayerbook helps me a little at times like that, although I think the John Prine song may be even more useful.....

  4. very helpful reminder, thanks! I sense my mind/heart is not quieted because it is not "pure" but divided. I seek the Lord as if He were one option among many. Wherever I lived I would carry that problem with me...

    And based on St. Antony of the Desert, being alone is not all peace and quiet!

  5. Jeff,

    Silence, stillness, prayer, all require practice, practice, and practice (why laziness and growing dull intellectually are contrary forces). The result of a growing relationship with God is that we desire the practice, and the practice helps us live with the distractions that pull us away from God.

  6. well said. as a young man I never understood why the spiritual masters said "we are all beginners." I now understand. In fact, I plan to go spend some time in prayer now! God bless!