Aloha Friday Message – September 7, 2018 – UNPLUGGED

1836AFC090718 – UNPLUGGED

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   Isaiah 35:5-6 * – Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; * The Link will take you to this passage in context. Additional discussion will be based on that context.

Psalm 146:8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.

Mark 7:32, 33a-35 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Thanks and praise be to God who gives us everything that’s good and in whom there is no change or variation. (See James 1:17-18 from last week) This week as I open the kit that contains God’s gift for us, I am grateful that he still insists on taking an active role in my day-to-day life. Yes, he is there with me every day. We get up together, and my day starts with, Good morning LORD, and thank you for this day. As we go out to help the world together, go beside me all the way.” My friend and fellow laborer in Christ, Brendan Case, reminded me of that recently. The Holy Spirit, who is the Lord, the Giver of Life, goes with us everywhere we go because … well, because it’s what he does. Remember, from the very moment God created earthlings he wanted to be with us. Even when we are not receptive to his presence, he still wants to go with us. It’s pretty clear he loves this place he created. He feeds all the animals (or goes along when we feed them), and takes care of the seas, the breeze, the grass, and the trees. Sure, things get messed up – we have storms, and fires, and diseases, and discomforts; but, he’s still with us all the time because he always wants to give us good things, things that help restore our awareness of him. When that awareness is restored we can see him and hear him so very much better. He likes it like that.

As I was contemplating the readings for this weekend (See Lectio Divina), I was reminded of something my parents used to say. It was a bit of nonsense that was clearly meant to be amusing. These days, I suppose someone could stand up and say, “That offends me!” Well, y’all have a right to be offended, I suppose, and that’s that as the offense is within you, and not me. Here’s that silly little quote: “I saw,” said the blind man, “a hole in the wall.” “So I’ve heard,” said the deaf-mute, “but, you can’t see at all!” As Mr. Spock would say, “That is illogical.” A blind man cannot see a hole in the wall, and the deaf-mute could not chastise him about his statement. But you know, God certainly takes that in a different turn. He says that the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the mute will speak, the lame will walk – and LEAP!, and sick will be cured, and the dead shall be raised. (See 1 Corinthians 15:50-52) In this World, that just doesn’t make sense; and that is precisely my point. Those are the things that occur in the Kingdom of God, and as Jesus was walking toward Jerusalem to willingly die for us, he paused along the way to share God’s gloriously generous gift of mercy with all who would accept it. Sometimes he said, “What do you want me to do for you?” (See Mark 10:51) Sometimes he said “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (See Matthew 9:28) At one point he asks, “Why are you looking for me?” (See Luke 2:49) Jesus confronted his Disciples with their own blindness and other limitations. It was as if their eyes were filled with dust, and their ears with mud. They could neither see nor hear that the Gospel was the Key to the Kingdom of God. It was like their eyes and ears were all plugged up. Jesus’ confrontations were intended to help them get unplugged.

We talk about “going unplugged” these days, too. In this technical age, we usually mean turning off the iPhone (or Blackberry or Android or whatever), and shutting down our social media account(s) for a time. In the world of music, it means playing music with acoustical instruments – unamplified and perhaps in a way more pure. Jesus beckons us to get completely unplugged so we can see and hear better. “Take the plank out of your own eye before you remove the speck in your brother’s eye. (See Matthew 7:5) Jesus repeatedly told the Disciples (not just the Apostles, but all who came to listen to him) that they should relinquish everything that tied them to The World. He wanted them to turn away from evil and embrace the Gospel (… repent and believe the good news – Mark 1:15) We have many expressions that describe what happens when we have so much going on that we can’t think straight – plugged up, jammed up, messed up, muddied up, overwhelmed, plunged under, backslid, lost, and hopelessly confused. In the Kingdom of God, all of those get fixed. We can taste and see that the Lord is Good (See Psalm 34:8). All of this happens when we stop saying, “I’ve got this” and start saying, “Jesus, can you get that for me?” We often (usually?) fail to recognize, as did the Disciples, that what we can do for, in, and with ourselves in this World is of no avail. We who know Christ and claim him as Savior walk with the Holy Spirit everywhere all the time. He’s right there, asking to be included in what we’re doing; we choose to carry on with our DIY attitude and leave him out of our day. But, what if we didn’t?

What if every day we unplugged, unjammed, cleaned up, drained out, and plunged ahead? What if we blinked and cleared our eyes, washed out or ears, cleaned up our mouths, purified our hearts, brightened our spirits, and jumped for joy in the Lord instead of slogging along in the World? What if we looked harder into the answer Jesus gave to John’s Disciples when they asked him “Are you the One?” Look at Matthew 11:4-5 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. “That’s cool,” you say, “But that’s Jesus. This is me, and I can’t do that.” Oh, yeah? Well unplug your ears, open your eyes, and latch on to this in John 14:12 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. (Thank you, Brendan, for reminding us of that! Brendan says faith works like ABC’s – A: I can’t do that. B: God can. C: I’m gonna let him! Check out these books and other lessons.) The Lord has done marvelous deeds (See Psalm 118:23 23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.) This is how we affirm that The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. We can go directly to Jesus, with the Holy Spirit at our side as our helper and advocate, and ask him to open our eyes, empower our mouths, unstop our ears, enliven our hands, and cleanse our hearts. We can, and must, invite him to treat us to recurring moments of Ephphatha:  34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. What if you prayed, “Oh, God! I want to be unplugged!” Do you think Jesus might ask you, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” What will you say, what will you see, what will you hear if you do believe?!?!? Try it! You’ll like it! Why not give it a go? You know by now the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. Not you, you say? It’s time to wrap it up then.

   I said earlier that there would be more from the context of Isaiah 35. If we want to know where we’ll end up if we ask Jesus to make us whole, we can just take a look at Isaiah 35:8 A highway shall be there,  and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. If we are in any way plugged up, jammed up, messed up, muddied up, overwhelmed, plunged under, backslid, lost, and hopelessly confused – then we need to hit the road called the Holy Way. We have seen that Jesus has pointed us on The Way, and given us a Companion to be our guide. Let’s get unplugged – together – and enter in by that King’s High Way, for indeed, the Kingdom of God is at hand. Try see Isaiah 30:21!  (Seriously, ya gotta click on that one!)

 

 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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