Open up!

Painting by Richard Caemmer Jr., formerly of the art faculty at Valparaiso University

There’s a miracle account recorded only in the gospel according to Mark where Jesus heals a man who is both deaf and unable to speak. The account tells us that Jesus took the man aside, stuck his fingers in his ears, spat, and then put his fingers on the man’s tongue. And then following a heavenward sigh, he speaks a word that Mark provides in the original Aramaic — perhaps because it’s onomatopoetic: “EPHPHATHA.” 

We might translate it as “open up!”

Mark relates that the man is immediately able to both hear and speak.

The isolation induced by having neither words to say nor receive must have been palpable. This man isn’t just now able to give and receive information. These restored senses serve to restore him back into a relationship with his neighbors. He is no longer isolated in silence.

Sometimes, we can get isolated in silence. We say things like “there are no words.“

When situations and circumstances threaten to overwhelm us, our words fail us and we’re left with sighs. Yet for making and maintaining human relationships, the giving and receiving of words is absolutely critical.

That’s one reason that the art of listening is so important. 

Words can also be restorative. And the opportunity to receive them can be a blessing. Words like “you are forgiven” are especially life-giving. 

Sometimes, however, we are so stuck in our silence that even when words of forgiveness are spoken in our presence, we don’t actually hear them. Maybe we assume that they are being spoken to someone else and not to us.

Sometimes, it takes being one-on-one, doing the hard work of pouring out all that we’ve got bottled up in order to hear the words again, “you are forgiven.”

In the past months, Pastor Kate and I have become more and more convinced that we need to normalize opportunities to hear such words in person. So we are planning to add to the Chapel schedule of services regular times for you to meet with one of us in complete confidentiality and hear words of forgiveness in response to whatever burdens you bear. 

We will use a script order to do this, though you’re welcome to ad lib, if you’d like. You can read through that script here and decide if saying and hearing these words would be a blessing to you.

As we prepare to make this offering, we would like your help in identifying the best times and places for us to do so. If you are willing, we ask that you share your opinion in this brief anonymous survey.

We pray that this offering will be a blessing to you. 

-Pr. Jim

Aug. 31, 2022

Pastor Jim and Pastor Kate take turns writing weekly devotions for the Chapel of the Resurrection

Image: The painting is by Richard Caemmer Jr., formerly of the art faculty at Valparaiso University.