Blog Space of Rev. Adrian J. Pratt B.D, pastor at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, Ellicott City, MD

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Ephphatah

 

Last week at Mount Hebron Presbyterian we were thinking about matters of the hearts. Our sermon from the day, “Heart of Righteousness” can be found here.
We are following series called “Mark My Words” and in worship this coming Sunday our reading will be from Mark 7:24-37. This passage features two stories about individuals ... touched by God. The first story concerns an interaction with a Gentile women’s daughter, that reveals her to have a deep faith. The second story is an account of Jesus healing a man born deaf and mute. Jesus uses the unfamiliar phrase “Ephphatah” (meaning "Be Opened") to speak to the mans condition.

The first account is an encouragement for us to be open to find faith in unexpected people and places. The woman is described as a Gentile. Jesus plays on this fact, even using for her a derogatory term that some Jews used for such folk, calling her a “dog.” She totally turns the phrase around and reminds Him that even the puppies under the table were able to enjoy the crumbs! Acknowledging her as a lady of great faith, Jesus responds, and healing comes into the situation.

The second passage concerns the healing of a deaf/mute man. Jesus takes him aside, and prays (with a sigh) "‘Ephphatah,’ which as we’ve seen means, "Be opened." Once again healing comes into the situation.

In an age when spiritual concerns are often marginalized and many church congregations have witnessed more prosperous days, we would do well to "Be opened." To stretch our faith and believe that this is a time when God is still working in unexpected ways through unexpected people in unexpected places.

I find it comforting that Jesus makes His prayer with a sigh. We all have days when we look around and sigh! How much easier things would be if there were a comprehensive, one size fits all blueprint to follow. Even a cursory reading of scripture reveals that the spiritual quest has never worked that way.

Should we wish to apply this passage to our own lives, there are a number of questions it raises for us.
  • Are there situations where we have very little expectation of God working?
  • Where are we in need of ‘being opened’?
  • What is there in our lives that would cause Jesus to “sigh?”
  • To what or to whom are we blind?
  • Where should we be speaking out instead of remaining mute?
For some music “Open the Eyes of My Heart” by Michael W. Smith. A Prayer: “Lord, in our lives together and in our individual journeys of faith, guide us to be opened to the possibilities of change and renewal that Your love can bring. Amen.”

The Reverend Adrian J Pratt B.D.

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