Lectionary Sermon for August 18 2019

But My Eyes Still See

There is a song, a love song by from the sixties entitled Silence Is Golden written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio. At that time it was a very popular song. Listen to the lyrics:

Oh don’t it hurt deep inside
To see someone do something to her
Oh don’t it pain to see someone cry
How especially if that someone is her

Talking is cheap people follow like sheep
Even though there is nowhere to go
How could she tell he deceived her so well
Pity she’ll be the last one to know

How many times will she fall for his lines
Should I tell her or should I be cool
And if I tried I know she’d say I lied
Mind your business don’t hurt her you fool

Silence is golden
But my eyes still see
Silence is golden, golden
But my eyes still see
But my eyes still see
But my eyes still see

This is a song about love but love that hurts. It hurts because the beloved does not know the one who deeply cares for her is watching her being abused by another who is using her and is unfaithful to her. The words say, “Silence is golden” but the reality is that it is not.

The Old Testament passage today from the prophet Isaiah begins with these words, “Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard” (Isa. 5:1 NRS) It too, is a song about watching a beloved be abused by those who are unfaithful. The prophet does not think silence is golden, and so he speaks.

Have you ever known someone with a broken heart? Maybe it was a friend, family member, peer or fellow worker. Perhaps you, yourself have had your heart broken by someone at some time. If you have not experienced this pain, the broken-ness, it is hard to know just how painful, how agonizing, how depressive it can be.

God reveals to his prophet Isaiah that the divine heart is broken. It is broken by God’s own people who treat God with contempt and have failed to be thankful for all God has done for them. Isaiah seeks to communicate the feelings of God through a story about a vineyard. Isaiah tells us a story of a vineyard that has been cared for lovingly and carefully, but instead of producing the fruit for which it was created, this vineyard produces nothing but bitterness and trouble.

The words of Isaiah let us know that Isaiah feels for God, his beloved God like the individual in the lyrics of the song. “Oh don’t it hurt deep inside/ To see someone do something to her/ Oh don’t it pain to see someone cry/ How especially if that someone is her. Isaiah not only feels the pain of God, he feels the betrayal of his own people, the people he serves. Do not the people of God understand how much pain and suffering they are causing not just to God, but to themselves as well? Why can they not see? Silence is not golden and the prophet’s eyes can see.
One of the saddest things about damaged relationships, is that often people do not realize the damage they do until the consequences of their actions catch up with them. It is so easy to say the wrong thing, make a foolish decision, ignore or simply pass by an opportunity for to express love or care or to take a loved one for granted.

I used to hate sitting down and doing a serious examination of my own life for I can remember so many times I have hurt, damaged, or neglected a relationship. I did not realize at the time just how important this relationship would be to me or just how much damage I had done through my actions. Oh how I wish I could change the things I did.

In the book of Psalms, Psalm 80 captures the anguish of the psalmist as the psalmist reflects on their situation the people were going though because of the grief they were causing God. It seems as if God has abandoned them. The psalmist, like Isaiah, also uses the example of a neglected vineyard. The Psalmist pleads with God to relent. The vineyard, the nation, the people were suffering. The problem is God is not the one who has brought this upon the people, God’s chosen unfaithful people. They brought it upon themselves. The had listened to their own desires and not God’s word. Now, they are facing the consequences of their actions. They are like the person in the lyrics,

“Talking is cheap people follow like sheep/ Even though there is no where to go/ How could she tell he deceived her so well/ Pity she’ll be the last one to know.”

“Silence is golden, but my eyes still see.”

The psalmist, however, expresses a desire for a new relationship, a restored relationship, a true reciprocal relationship and this is a step in the right direction. The psalmist cries out, “But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself. Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name. Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved. (Ps. 80:17-19 NRS)

The psalmist knows that God is a redemptive God. God is not a God who enjoys the pain of the people. God wants the relationship to be restored.

And what does ask of us for the relationship to be restored? God asks of us to have faith. Not a blind faith based just on words. God knows how words can be deceptive and a self-deceiving cover human beings sometimes try to use when we are afraid or are trying to get what we want. The type of faith God ask for us to have is a faith based on God’s actions, upon promises God has made and kept. The kind of faith we see in Hebrews 11:29-12:2. A faith that calls us to believe the great cloud of witnesses that surround us.

Listen again to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit speaks through the writer of Hebrews, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1-2 NRS)

This is the faith of a growing relationship. This is the faith that transcends the lies of this world and the deceptions which surround us. This is the truth we need. How often have God’s people of the past and the church of the present be misled by a false reality. How many time have we been like the one in the lyrics of the song, How many times will she fall for his lines/ should I tell her or should I be cool/ And if I tried I know she’d say I lied/ Mind your business don’t hurt her you fool.

Yes, the truth may hurt, but silence about God is not golden. Silence about Jesus is not golden. Silence is exactly what the powers and principalities want from those of us who know the truth, who have seen the light, and have felt the love. Even if they do not believe we must tell them. We must show them for they are our business.

In the gospel passage for this week Jesus himself tells us that we often will make people mad. We will face rejection and maybe even hurt a relationship, but we will not hurt it nearly as much if we keep silent about the human condition and the love the God has for all human beings. Yes there is a time for silence, but not when it effects the eternal destiny of those who we should love.

In the lyrics of the song the individual who is watching what is happening to the person knows it will not turn out well for them. The person knows the girl is being used. The person knows she is being lied too. The person knows she is going to be devastated when she finds out and she will find out. But the one who knows is more concerned about her feelings toward him. He is afraid to take a chance. Does this apply to us? Are we afraid to take a chance and tell people how this world leads us to lies and deceptions? Are we willing to tell those who are being seduced and spiritual abused?

The person in this song is trying to convince themselves silence is golden, but his own words reveal how this is not true. He states three times, but my eyes still see. In Luke Jesus tells use to pay attention to what we see. He tells us in this fallen culture there will be conflicts and crisis. We must pay attention and courageously act. We must responded to the need, to the truth.

Again, Silence may be golden, golden
But God’s eyes still see
But our eyes still see
But my eyes still see.

What will I do about it?

The Positive Power of Examination

“I believe we shall never learn to know ourselves except by endeavoring to know God, for, beholding His greatness we are struck by our own baseness, His purity shows our foulness, and by meditating on His humility we find how very far we are from being humble. Two advantages are gained by this practice. First, it is clear that white looks far whiter when placed near something black, and on the contrary, black never looks so dark as when seen beside something white. Secondly, our understanding and will become more noble and capable of good in every way when we turn from ourselves to God: it is very injurious never to raise our minds above the mire of our own faults.”
— St. Teresa of Avila, p. 17
AN EXCERPT FROM, Interior Castle

I love the work, the gift, that St. Teresa of Avila gave to all who would seek to draw closer to God. To study her work is like being given a map to a maze. The more we listen to what she has to say, the stronger we are in moving through the “rooms,” the stages that we must go through if we are to reach the perfection in love God has for us.

The above quote is a tool for examination. We human beings like to compare. We make it a competition. The problem is when we make it a competition with other human beings, we can become arrogant in our ignorance. Our ignorance is rooted in our sinfulness and our pride.

God has created us for his glory. That means we find our best in our being what we were created to be. We were made perfect. We were made good. This changed when our world became broken through arrogance and ignorance. We are called to come back to the good. However, we must have a measure, a standard by which we can tell how we are progressing. Through an sincere examination of our own hearts and lives on a regular (daily or more) basis in the light of God’s greatness and the actions of our lives, we can come to see just where we lack. When we look at the humility of Jesus and then compare our behaviors and attitudes we can more clearly see how we need to strive to progress even further.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart,
Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being loved,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being honored,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being praised,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being approved,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being despised,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I go unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

(Litany of Humility, Rev. Merry de Val)