Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Friday, May 01, 2009

Are you listening...

"Let him who has ears, hear." That's how Jesus says it my translation of the Bible. But another author captures the essence of it well in his transliteration called "The Message". After a parable, or a talk, Jesus would summarize by saying this: "Are you listening? Really listening?"

It's a good word, and it makes sense that Jesus was say it, because the testimony of the ages, and of many moments of our own hearts, is that we're not listening. We're too busy talking, or competing, or comparing, or ignoring, to listen.

Our fractured hearts are often on the run, trying hard to find some kind of success that we can convince both ourselves and others that we're worthy of love. And all this trying has the effect of tuning out the Voice that, if we were to hear it, might just assure us that everything's going to be fine, that we're deeply love and utterly accepted regardless of whether we succeed or fail at our grand plans. If this is true, maybe we can relax a little bit, let go of the plans, and content ourselves with doing just exactly what God asks of us - big or small, anonymous or with notoriety.

But we'll never get to that point without the assurance that we're deeply loved just as we are, and we'll never really come to believe that in anything deeper than our minds unless we learn how to listen for God's voice. If you're interested, here are some practical steps:

1. Read the Bible aloud, slowly, a short passage. Read it again. Ask God to speak to you through what you've read. Meditate on it. Enter into it. Listen. Read it again, slower even, if needed. You need to listen. Mark what God has shown you, either in your journal or in a simple prayer of thanks to God.

2. Listen to creation. I was just sitting in the back yard this evening as the sun was disappearing behind our neighbors how to the northwest of us. As I listened, I could easily here a drummer practicing for marching band, a car horn (several), the general noise of Aurora, and some airplanes. Ah, but there's more. Quieter, less intrusive, were the birds. Several species have found their way to our neighborhood over the past years, as our collective efforts to reforest the flats between Phinney Ridge and Greenlake are coming to fruition. I'm not an birder, so can't give you names - but they're sounds are stunning. I noticed them earlier today, as I used part of my day off to ride my bike around Seattle. You could hear plenty of humanity, but every once in a while you could also hear the birds. Mmmm. They remind us of so much that is hopeful, healing, and good.

Listening demands focused attention, and focused attention demands attention be diverted from whatever it was that previously occupied me. There's the crux of the problem. I'm not sure we really believe that turning away from our ambitions, comparisons, and competitions, will yield anything of value. I don't know if we could be much more wrong about anything.

Are we listening? Really listening?


At 2/5/09 11:29, Anonymous Anna said...

Have you ever done any lectio divina? Your suggestions sound a bit like it. Great practice!

Really enjoying your blog, brother.

At 2/5/09 11:44, Anonymous Anonymous said...


i love listening to the Creation and seeing his Spirit work. i do listen to his words & sit quietly until i hear his voice through song or praise.
Thank you so much for letting us really Hear his Voice,Spirit.


At 2/5/09 15:07, Blogger Patrick said...

we are doing communal lectio divina at the 645 tomorrow!

At 4/5/09 11:13, Blogger lisa said...

Great post, Richard. In case you don't recognize me here, I'm one of the Conversant Life bloggers with you. I was just musing on how Creation stirs me on my personal blog.

Also, I'm in the States right now for our board meetings etc and a dear friend couldn't stop talking about your 02 book all last weekend. My husband is off to try to buy it at this very minute :-)

At 5/5/09 12:33, Blogger Rusty said...

Its funny how God speaks - I "read" this post when you posted it 3 days ago... Listen - check. Birds - check. Take a moment - check.

I was running through my reading list again today and my eye got drawn to this post (I didn't even remember reading it, I only recognized the photo of the bird), and was floored by how much listening I continually fail to do.

Thanks for the reminder to inhale via listening.


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