"He who has ears to hear, let him ear" says the Bible.i I've been thinking about hearing a lot recently.
At the Mic to Monitor session I attended the other week I learned a lot about how well our ears work - and can tune out certain noises. But that doesn't explain why sometimes, there is a definite slip between the ear and the brain, leading to awful misunderstandings.
The other week, I was telling some children the story of the birth of John the Baptist. "Why did Zechariah laugh when the angel said Elizabeth would have a baby?" I asked. "Because she was Asian" said a child.
"What??" I exploded. "You said she was Asian, and she was really old, Miss"
"Errr, no, I said she was ANCIENT!" The child obviously didn't know the word ancient, so substituted one he did know.
No, what she has actually found is the Foot Controller for the sewing machine she's donating to our Sewing Club.
Then yesterday we had some young visitors at Church who came to Kirby Fried Church to meet David Coffey. One of our members was being friendly and asked where the girls had come from. "Desford, which is famous for mimes" she was told. My friend was most confused. Did Marcel Marceau come from Leicestershire? Did she mean PANTOmimes?
No, she meant those holes in the ground where you dig for coal!!
My Dad said that as a child, he wondered each Christmas what Oarrie was. He knew what Tar was - but never could work out why the three Kings were made of Oarrie and Tar.
I think one of the best slip-of-the-ear stories I read concerned a man who worked in an office and every morning at about the same time, heard a loudspeaker outside his window announcing "Calling Theodore McNurty, calling Theodore McNurty"
Eventually his curiosity got the better of him and one morning he left his desk and went to the window to see if Theodore was answering the summons. That was when he saw the regular delivery lorry going backwards up the alley, while the automated safety message was broadcast "Caution vehicle reversing! Caution, vehicle reversing!"
Douglas Adams wrote about a wonderful fictional creature called the Babel Fish and if you stick it in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. How useful!
If Simon & Garfunkel are right, and "a man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest" - or maybe he deliberately mishears it, so it sounds like something he is comfortable and familiar with, what does that mean about our evangelism? We need to choose our words very carefully when we are speaking to our friends about God. There is always the possibility that they will, accidentally, or deliberately, mishear our words. Let us pray that when we speak, the Holy Spirit will interpret our words to our hearers and they will respond!