Ed advised me that at my age, I must take care not to catch on fire with enthusiasm when preaching because I’m old and dusty. He estimated I would burn up before they could find a fire extinguisher at church. The ushers of the day never show up in the summer because they’re at the lake.
I won’t share Ed’s other advice, as I would like to focus on the difficulty of seeing and hearing clearly at church. People new to faith may find it easier to concentrate at church because they are eager for God’s word, read and preached.
Many in a congregation are not new believers and may be tempted to shrug off God’s word, as that which they have heard before. God’s word may be dulled in our attention towards it. We understand that people genuinely need eyeglasses to see clearly and hearing aids to hear distinctly. What can help us read, hear and understand God’s word at church and home as God talking to us personally?
The last few days here in British Columbia, the air has been smoky. It has blocked out the sun. Hazy, smoky days mean things are out of focus. They are not as clear as they could be. On the other hand, the focus on God’s word, read and preached in church, and the reception of his sacraments there is sharpened and deepened by an active trust that God’s word is true and active in those who believe it.
Jesus taught that we often work for food that spoils. It is so easy for our hearts to be set on the here and now. In John 6, Jesus fed 5,000 people with five small barley loaves and two small fish. Many of those Jesus fed followed him to Capernaum as they wanted to make Jesus king for his ability to provide food for so many. The people were focused on Jesus because of what he did. They did not want to hear who Jesus was and what he was on Earth to do. Jesus wanted them to believe in him as God’s Saviour, which enabled him to do miracles.
Jesus told the people, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”Jesus also told them, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Most of them refused to trust that Jesus came down from heaven. It was and still is a matter of faith.