Bread – Listen

October 10, 2011


Readings for Monday, October 10, designated by the Book of Common Prayer: Jer. 36:11-26; 1 Cor. 13:1-13; Matt. 10:5-15; Psalms 1, 2, 3, 4, 7

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All of us have seen a little child yell at the top of his voice when he is being told something he does not want to hear, sometimes accompanied by putting his hands over his ears. It is as if the counter-talking can somehow overwhelm or at least hide the lesson or the truth. The child has a belief system where, if he can’t hear it, it doesn’t affect him. As adults, we know better, and yet in an adult version of the same thing all we have to do is watch political “discourse” between opposing sides on television.

In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul says that “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” 1 Cor. 13:11 He was speaking of Christian maturity, but the same applies in all of life. The adult in us knows that we need to listen to the truth and attempt to comprehend it so that we can avoid calamity and achieve real success, but the child in us wants to just be left alone, to ignore everything which challenges our view of ourselves or our world. Paul says that, in maturity, we need to grow up and listen, we need to grow up and gain wisdom, we need to grow up and hear the truth and act on it. By this maturity, we put off vain achievement and obtain the deeper, more permanent, things – faith, hope, and love.

In our Old Testament reading today, we see an adult-child in full action. Jeremiah has been given a vision by the Lord of the calamity to fall on Judah, and he dictates this vision to Baruch, who writes it down on a scroll. Following instructions, Baruch reads the scroll to the people and the reading is overheard by some of the officials in the king’s cabinet. They tell the king about it, and he asks for it to be read to him. “Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. The king and all his attendants who heard these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes.” Jer. 36:23-24 The king did the same thing the little child did in my introduction; in his worldview, if he couldn’t see the Word of God or hear it read, then it didn’t exist and he could go on his merry way.

As an adult, he would have listened and hearkened to God’s message to him and the nation through the prophet Jeremiah, he would have meditated upon it, and he would have reacted appropriately to it – in this case by repenting his and his nation’s evil ways. As a child, he thinks “out of sight, out of mind.”

We really have two choices when we are confronted with God’s Word. One is to cut it up and throw it into the fire, hoping (and thinking) that it will just go away. One is to embrace the reality it gives, even if it hurts our view of ourselves or others, attempt to understand it, and attempt to implement its truths throughout our doings, all in the power of the Holy Spirit.

In this light, listen to our first Psalm today – “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and who leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Ps. 1:1-3

As adults, let’s listen to what God has to say and do it.

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