Today's Lectionary Text
Song of Solomon 8:13O you who dwell in the gardens,
my companions are listening for your voice;
let me hear it.
Fools think their own way is right,
James 1:17, 19-20Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
I was born completely deaf in my left ear. It was discovered in my first-grade class when my failure to thrive in class was explored, and after being tested was diagnosed with a left side deafness due to degenerative hearing and balance conditions in my inner ear that could not be reversed. I’ve adjusted and live well hearing with my “good” right ear. Though it has been a disability it has also been a gift (indeed part of the thread of my call to ministry). I’ve never taken for granted the gift of hearing, as well as always having to spend extra energy to “listen” to our world and the words of others. At times its exhaustive, yet rewarding.
Today’s scriptures affirm the gift and importance of “listening” to others. Something so simple yet sometimes so difficult. I am wondering if the greatest threat to our democracy these days is government officials from both political parties unwilling to listen beyond their own agenda. I am wondering if the greatest threat to Christian denominations is the unwillingness to listen to others with a belief system and approach to scripture different than our own. I am wondering if the greatest threat to our United Methodist denomination is our unwillingness to listen to others with different points of view beyond our own filters and passions. And I wonder if the the greatest threat to our own spirituality is our self-made busyness preventing us from taking time to listen to our inward being and the “still small voice” of God’s Spirit.
In truth, I have to work hard not just at listening beyond my deafness, but listening to others beyond my own inner voice, beliefs and agenda. So this Lent, I am committing to a spiritual practice of doing a better job of listening. Yes, let’s admit it’s hard work at times. So what better time than the season of Lent to give ourselves to a challenge of practicing “listening.” The writer of the book of James encourages the faith community with simple words: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak.”
-Rev. Rick Saylor
Clergy and Congregational Coach
Prayer for Reflection
O God who empowers our listening. We give you thanks for our ability to hear, that neurologically creates cognition in our brain. Let us never take it for granted. And help us remove some of the threats in our world by being better listeners. So be it. Amen.
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