"Ears to hear"

by Pastor Jaynan Clark Egland
(President, WordAlone Network)

June 16, 2004

Jesus made the statement or asked the question regarding ears enough times that folks even today associate this “saying” with him. Jesus, the teacher and preacher, proffered stories publicly often turning to those present imploring them to hear with their ears. photo of Jaynan ClarkRather than asking if they heard him, he suggested to those who have ears, well—use them! Hear with your ears!

As he teaches you about the sowing of the seeds in the variety of soils and conditions, when he instructs you concerning the wheat and the weeds, the lamp on the lamp stand and the salt and its saltiness he adds a hearing check. As he turns to you to explain that John the Baptizer was Elijah sent by God he wants to know if you are listening. When he points out to you that you, your church and your society are ignoring the commands of God so you can follow your own teachings, he draws closely to your side and peers deep inside.

Not just Jesus was concerned about your hearing for he quotes Isaiah the prophet regarding the stubborn among us who do not hear with our ears and have closed our eyes. In fact, most of the talk of ears in the Old Testament takes the form of the negative. Over and over we are reminded of those who have ears to hear but don’t. Ears are stopped up by sinners and by God alike.

Does Jesus’ church have a hearing problem? It would appear so—or might we more accurately say, “it sounds like it.” There would be no need for a movement such as the WordAlone Network to exist if the leadership of the ELCA and its members were listening with their ears intently to God’s Word. Though the problem may not be as severe as complete deafness, there is an obvious need for some thorough cleaning of our inner chambers that we might not only be attentive but also actually hear with our ears.


God is calling and quite loudly these days, I believe. He is calling to all who have ears to hear that the church of his Word needs to be reformed, renewed and steeped in his teachings.

Many say that the leadership of the ELCA have stopped up ears and they are not listening, not to God and certainly not to the likes of us—a gathering of sinners committed to listening and lending our ears to the Word alone for the future of this church. Though the many skeptics among us will say, “The ELCA leaders will never change.” “Reform? Yeah, right! What a waste of time and money!”

Well, listen up folks. The winds of change are blowing and you can hear them rattling at the doors and windows of this structured, institutional church.

Hear this! We had heard that the renewing worship materials were not going to offer an order of service that allowed the words of institution to stand alone without the Eucharistic prayer, but following the fall conference of WordAlone dedicated to this and other questions about worship, the ELCA said that the new materials would include an option within the communion service without the Eucharistic prayer. Also, just last month in The Lutheran, the presiding bishop of the ELCA, Mark Hanson was quoted as saying, “A significant majority of bishops and other leaders say something has to change about the governance. Not to respond at all would be irresponsible and not listening.” From the beginning, changing the governance and the present structure of the ELCA, which allow for no voice for the local churches and have no system of checks and balances, has been one of our main goals as a movement. Resolutions are being passed across the church reclaiming the freedom we have from an imaginary historic episcopate, about affirming laypersons’ presiding at the Lord’s Supper and maintaining the current ministry standards of the church and our understanding of marriage.

Tell me now who is not listening? Though we cannot allow ourselves to become proud in thinking that any or all of this is our doing; we can move forward into the future with the Word’s assurance that though “impossible” applies to us as God’s creatures, all things are possible for him. If God wills reform across this old church of his then let the WordAlone Network be those who lend him our ears and our hands to help when and where he chooses. Keep Listening!