Listening – learning – honoring story – the church – day 30
(the church = the people of God / followers of Jesus Christ)
In the Study of Time that I did many weeks ago, I learned many things – two of which were these tidbits of truth:
- “How we live in time shapes our relationships with our innermost selves, with other people, with God’s natural world, and with God.” (Dorothy C. Bass, “Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time,” [San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2000], xxi).
- Therefore, if we desire for each of these relationships to be enhanced / improve, we must focus on the quality of each of these relationships, beginning with our own with our innermost selves and then moving towards working on each of our relationships.
God has made us human creatures to need God and to need one another – to be in relationships that resemble a cross – vertical with Almighty God and horizontal with humanity, the natural world, and the critters God has creature.
The pathway towards enhancing each relationship is two-fold:
- Learn to meet people right where they are,
- and then try to discover what brought them to that place in their life’s journey.
This pathway begins listening – keenly listening …
And, Holy Scripture guides us in our journey towards becoming better listeners:
First, remember that God listens to you and to me – sinners that we are – God listens to us:
Jeremiah 33:3 – ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
1 John 5:14 – This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to God’s will, God hears us.
Jeremiah 29:12 – Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
Psalm 116:1-2 – I love the Lord, for the Lord heard my voice; the Lord heard my cry for mercy. Because the Lord’s ear turned to me, I will call on the Lord as long as I live.
Each of these passages teach us about contemplation before the Lord. That is, setting aside time each morning to really be with God – listening to what God has to say to us and learning God’s direction for us on any given day. In this way, we are listening to both God and to our innermost selves. Neither are going ignored.
In the midst of our contemplative time with God, we begin to hear God’s calling and direction for our lives – and the next step is, as the writer of Proverbs tells us, is to heed God’s instruction:
Proverbs 16:20 – Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.
And James …
James 1:22 – Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
And Jesus …
Luke 11:28 – He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Matthew 7:24 – Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
So, the same is true for growing our relationships with others … our goal should be to approach each conversation as a learner – not an expert. This means to be curious about the other people, and to be curious, we must listen, listen, listen, and listen some more. We must ask open-ended questions, such as “Hmmmm – tell me more about that?” “Hmmmm, how did you come to know that?” “Tell me what you think about thus and so? “How are you feeling about what happened today?”
James 1:19 – My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
And the Apostle Paul teaches us about what we should have learned from him – if we’ve been paying attention – really listening to his teachings.
Philippians 4:9 – Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
And, through the Revelation to John, we are invited to the heavenly banquet in the coming age …
Revelation 3:20, 23 – “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”
Let us be listening people of God;
let us be curious people of God;
let us seek to know God and to know one another;
let us seek to really know God – and really know one another;
let us go about this day seeking to enhance our relationships with our innermost selves, with one another, with God’s natural world, and with God.
May it be so!
In Christ’s name we pray, and together say, Amen.
Rev. Susan Carter Wiggins