Year B Proper 18 Mark 7
The Man Who Couldn't Hear
Mark 7:31-37

In ancient Greece it was customary for peddlers who walked the streets with their wares to cry out, "What do you lack?" The idea was to let people know they were in the vicinity, and also rouse the curiosity of the people. Coming out of their houses they would want to know what the peddler was selling. It might be something they lacked and needed, or simply something they desired.

What do you lack? We may have sight and hearing, but what do we lack? Take an honest inventory of yourself. Have you found contentment? Are you close enough to God to receive his guidance and strength? Have you secured peace of heart and peace of mind, invaluable assets in life? Deciding what we lack is the first step in securing it. Christ can fulfill our needs -- needs that are to some extent physical, but, more so, the deepest needs of heart, mind, and soul.

The man in Mark 7 lacked the physical ability to hear. But many of us lack the spiritual ability to hear. We suffer a kind of a spiritual deafness. The affliction of not listening to people, or, to put it another way, the affliction of physically listening to people, yet failing to comprehend, to understand, and come to grips with what they are saying, is a plague upon the Church. For, you see, it is possible to listen to a person, yet fail to really hear them.

Listening is a skill. It is something that can be acquired. I don’t think it is at all an exaggeration to say that you could have no greater impact upon your world then by closing your lips and opening your ears. How can we become better listeners? Let’s take a look at…

  1. The life of a man who could not hear.
  2. The life of a man who will not hear.
  3. How life changes when you hear.

Does Jesus Have a Health Plan?
James 2 : 1-10

Back-to-school time is lay-down-the law time.

As all the kids go back to school, Moms and Dads are busy laying down the ground rules to help make it a successful year.

Little ones get instructions on crossing the street, holding hands, and eating their lunch.

Middle-school kids get cautionary tales about bullying behavior, harder homework, and budgeting their time.

High school students get lectures on safe driving, curfews, and the looming threat/promise of college - which means "buck down and buckle-down, now."

But for the first time in decades there is another back-to-school-rule that is being stressed with great seriousness and grave concern - "Wash your hands. With soap. Often!"

Along with the new backpacks and lunchboxes, and lockers, we are being told to expect a new outbreak of the H1N1 virus - the Swine flu. After a few days at the University of Washington the last week in August, a couple hundred kids have gotten sick. With no vaccine even available until sometime in October, there isn't all that much we can do to protect ourselves, and our families, except "wash our hands." Not since the polio epidemics in the 1940's and early 1950's has going back to school been deemed such a potential 'health hazard."

I don't know whether it's more ironic, or fitting, that the biggest debates on health care ever to occur in this country are heating up just as the temperatures are cooling down and the red flag storm warnings of a swine flu outbreak are being unfurled. We are facing an approaching enemy without any sure fire weapon to weld against is. How will we respond? And what happens if the worst happens? What happens if 80 million Americans come down with H1N1 virus?

The church has always been in the health care business. Jesus spent his three years of ministry preaching, teaching and healing, but Jesus was most known among the people as a healer. The crowds that followed him requested a healing touch more often than a holy word. And Jesus didn't discount the diseases of the body... presents Leonard Sweet