“6,000 voices” versus “the One Voice”

19 Jun

It’s Father Day. It’s Sunday, June 20, 2010. It’s the 4th Sunday after Pentecost!

On the one side, there is Father’s Day. On the other side, there’s the Gospel reading from Luke 8:26-39.

And I am remembering one of my most embarrassing moments as a father. My eldest son, CJ, played soccer through elementary school through middle school. For the first few years, I was an assistant coach. And, as an assistant coach, I would bark out instructions, directions, and suggestions from the sidelines.

Later, when CJ was on the travel team, I was no longer the assistant coach. I was simply a parent. Unfortunately, I had a difficult  time letting go of my habit of screaming instructions from the sidelines. From my fold-out chair or blanket, I continued to try to be boss and coach and father, all at the same time. This was not good!

When CJ was on the soccer pitch, he was supposed to listen to 1 voice, the voice of his coach. It was not fair to ask him to receive a multiple set of instructions. It was confusing and distracting and I imagine 100% annoying!

CJ learned to tune me out. He avoided looking in my direction. He needed to focus on listening to 1 voice. Over a period of time, I overcame this bad habit. I’m sure my wife, Ann, rolled her eyes at me more than once. And it is quite embarrassing for me to share this with all of you. So I ask you, “Would you all pronounce absolution?” Say: “In the name of Christ, your sins are forgiven!” (including the sin of being a loud-mouth, sideline father)

Thinking about this embarrassing episode gives me real insight, I think, about the Gospel story from Luke 8. I think God has big to say here.

In this episode, we meet a man who had a Legion marching around in his head. There were 6,000 voices screaming all at once! A mob all telling him what to do. Now, if you are a kid trying to listen to your coach while tuning out a screaming parent- that is a challenge. So imagine how much more the challenge of trying to tune out 6,000 marching, screaming, annoying, sick, disgusting, unclean spirit voices in your head. No wonder this man had been ripping off his clothes, tearing off his manacles, sleeping on grave stones in the cemetery, and living apart from his family, neighbors, and community.

This man who was listening to all these voices was a danger to himself and his community. 6,000 voices romping around in his brain. And then Jesus arrived. And Jesus silenced the 6,000 voices so that the man could listen to the 1 Voice.

How many voices are in your head? How many voices are you listening to? Each day you might turn on the radio, switch on the TV, fire up the computer. How many hours do you listen to the radio? Partake of the images and sounds from the TV? Check text messages from your cell phone? Look at status updates on Facebook? Become depressed watching or reading the news?

There are so many voices. Never before in human history has it been possible to be exposed to so many voices at once in a single minute, not to mention one day! Certainly, we can select those voices we choose to listen to. Pick people who agree with us. Select people who affirm our worldview. Choose voices that will tell us that we are right and they are stupid.

I was thinking about this. There’s a voice that says to me, “See this toy. You deserve it. You must buy it. Don’t worry about whether you can afford it. We’ll find a way. Because you deserve to be happy. And this will make you happy!” This is just one of the many voices that speak to me each day.

Yet the Gospel reading makes me wonder. Is listening to all these voices a good thing? Sounds like that is a big, f at NO!

Today we are faced with not just 6,000 voices, but a mega-million mob of voices. Do we listen to them shout? Or do we listen to the whisper of Christ?

Think about it. When did CJ play better soccer? When did he have more fun? When was soccer more joyful? Was it when I screamed my “insightful, obvious, wise advice”? Or was it when I kept my mouth shut?

I don’t know why others go to church. But here’s one reason why I go to church. I need an exorcism. That’s right. I need to have the mega-million mob of voices that are screaming at me drowned out so that I can listen to the whisper of Christ’s love for me, for you, and for everyone.

If you’ve read this far, then I hope that through these words Christ is casting out the many voices in your life so that the 1 Voice of Christ will be the central Voice speaking to you each day?

How about this experiment? What if you listened to Christ’s Voice through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) for the next month? Read the Sermon on the Mount, over and over again, every day. Before you listen to the other voices of the day, listen to the 1 Voice of Christ.

When the man with the 6,000 voices in his head heard the 1 Voice of Jesus he was healed. And Jesus sent him on his way, “Go, tell everyone what God has done for you.” And what did God do? He cast out the mob of screaming voices so that the man could hear the whisper of the 1 Voice, saying, “The Lord loves you. The Lord loves your family. The Lord loves your neighbor. The Lord loves your enemy.”

May the many voices become silenced so that you may hear the 1 Voice of Christ. Amen.

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