In the month of November I contracted an ear infection in my left ear. The illness left me hearing impaired for a week and a half. I experienced the difficulty of what several of the members of the congregation face on a daily basis. It was difficult to participate in life. It felt like my head was continually under water. I was outside and my neighbor Poncho was yelling at me from across the street. Doc Furber was trying to give me advice from the perch of his front lawn and I couldn’t hear him. It felt like I was living in my own little world and that my life was closed off from everyone else’s.
Thankfully my hearing is back again. The antibiotic worked. And yet, what would it be like to live continually without the ability to hear? I wouldn’t be able to hear my little girls talk. I wouldn’t be able to hear what my wife said. (Some might think that would be a good thing.) I wouldn’t be able to participate in worship, sing the hymns, or hear the organ play the liturgy.
There is that age-old conversation starter that maybe you have been asked before. “If you had to lose one of your senses, which one would it be?” While eyes behold beautiful sights, it is words that change us. And considering how much of Christmas is about the ears, I think I’d want to keep them.
Without his ears there would be no miracle baby called John the Baptist born to Zechariah and Elizabeth. Without her ears Mary would never have conceived and born a son. If the shepherds were deaf they wouldn’t have made it to Bethlehem. Let’s face it. Without the ears there wouldn’t be much to Christmas.
And yet many people who have ears have become deaf to the message of Christmas. Many live their lives without the message of God’s Son, the Savior. They close themselves off to the places where God speaks. They neglect prayer, devotion, worship, the pastor, or the Sacraments. It can be the same with us. Our own little world that we live in is the world of sin, and nothing sometimes seems to be able to penetrate the darkness.
All of us, born in sin, are opposed to the message of God, and deaf to His will. It’s not like the organs in us are able to comprehend and accept God and want His gifts. The good news is that His message breaks down our walls. He not only speaks the message, He changes our hearts that we might receive it and be blessed by it. He comes so that, like Mary, we might ponder His goodness in our hearts, and like the shepherds, rejoice and praise God for all the things that we have heard and seen.
Will you come to the field of Bethlehem this Christmas? Will you join Zechariah in the Holy Temple? Will you gather at the manger and hear these things that have come to pass which the Lord has made known to us?
God has a message to speak to you this Christmas. He hasn’t stopped speaking. He sends, this Christmas, His Heavenly messages to shepherds and saints, to young men and old, to Holy Priests, pious Virgins, and everyone in between. By this message He forgives sins, comforts hearts, speaks peace, and brings hope again to a fallen world and fallen hearts.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” -- Matthew 11:15