This week our theme for those who follow Samctuary First has been thinking about the place of communication in the Christian life.
There is something paradoxical about the world in which we are all living. Never before has humanity had the potential to be more connected and integrated. Technology offers us the tools and resources to draw closer and understand each others habits, cultures and fears. Communication systems have never been better. However the disappointing paradox is that we can develop a relationship with someone in Japan who we have never met, ( because we are using our ipads and smart phones), but ingnore our neighbour who lives next door. There is something deeply sad about our disconnected world of broken relationships. And this disconnectedness in our families and workplaces also happens within our churches and fellowships. It is this I find hardest to bear as a Christian leader.
We are surrounded by people who are chosing not to hear or speak to each other. They are the silent wounded. They move about their daily business determined to carry on a normal life yet equally determined to block out any sound or language or memory that would remind them of a past hurt that has become so deep that they no longer want to think about it. The silent wounded are not bad people - they are hurting people who are simply looking to protect themselves from past experiences that have remained unresolved.
In the Bible there is a story that tells how human beings stopped communicating with each other. They kept on talking but no one was listening or remaining in communion with the other. Their voices became one big confused mess. Its a story that revolves around a project that could have been fantastic but human egos got in the way and it all ended in tears. It is the story of a team of people who started to build the tower of Babel. People who wanted to reach out to God but on the way ended up reaching beyond God to glorify themselves.
The story of Babel symbolises everyman. We are people who cannot really speak about the things that matter any more. We have allowed ourselves to get in the way. Babel reminds us of the signals that get crossed. The confusion that wrong signals bring, and the crashes that occur. Babel is another word for missed opportunities. It is the place where mistakes are multiplied and people no longer meet. It is the place where people get annoyed with each other, shout to be heard. It is the place where people complain that their point of view has not beenrespected. Babel is the place of non-communication - it is an awful place. It is a place where laughter and enthusiasm have disappeared. It is the situation where confusion reigns and relationships swirl around in slow motion never touching. Eyes never meet. Lips remain sealed and ears only hear the hurtful noises of unforgiveness.
For me the story of the healing of the deaf mute in Mark's Gospel 7. 31-37 is the healing of Babel. It s the story of how Jesus met a man who was locked up within himself and released him from his personal prison. These stories in the Bible take us to deeper places. They invite us all to encounter the words of Jesus " Be Opened"
If having read this article you are struggling to bring yourself to mend a broken relationship, why not read the passage in Mark's Gospel, then go to a mirror and look at yourself. Put your fingers in your ears and pray aloud "Be opened in order that I might hear you speak." Then take your fingers and place them on your lips and say " Be opened that I might speak forth your praise"
Now wait and see what materialises the opportunities to re-connect will come and healing will arrive.