Psalm 78: 1-8
A Maskil of Asaph.
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
that our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
He established a decree in Jacob,
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach to their children;
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and rise up and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God,
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
Part of the work of the church is to teach us to listen in a world that only wants to speak. We learn to listen, not just for information; but also for discernment, sifting through the questions of life. We learn to listen, not to react quickly to every dilemma, but to respond thoughtfully and prayerfully. We learn to listen not only to speak, but so we can speak truthfully, kindly, and compassionately.
Listening is found at the heart of the church. When we gather for worship, we are merely pausing long enough to listen. When we sing, it is for our ears. When we read scripture, we are trying to hear what we have not heard before, or what we need to hear again. When we pray, we not only speak, but we also listen. In the place where I worship each week, we also pause for a time of silence because in the silence the only sound we hear is the presence of God.
God is whispering to us, reminding us that we belong to God and to one another. In order to hear it though, we must listen. Too often, we are busing speaking at each other, past one another, over each other, or about each other. We are listening only because we are trying to think of what to say next.
We are learning to distinguish God’s voice amongst the others, which is rather difficult because God is speaking through us, for us, and to us. It is not the type of listening we use when we flip through the television channels, scroll through the songs on our phones, or play our favourite podcast, as we drive down the road. It is more like walking outside at dusk and hearing the chirping of the crickets all around us. It is hearing something that makes us silent. It is when we can hear a pin drop, like when the choir finishes singing and the beauty of the song fills the room, and we do not have words to describe it. When we hear something sacred, all we can do is be quiet.
We are learning to listen in the church so we can better listen for those same things throughout the the world, recognizing God’s voice wherever kindness is spoken, wherever justice is needed, wherever humility is voiced, wherever mercy is given, or wherever community is formed.
God continues to speak through us, for us, and to us in various ways. When we hear it, we become quiet, where we can hear a pin drop, but if we incline our ears to hear the voices of mercy and the need for justice, we will know how to peak up as well.
we are grateful that you continue to speak to a world that struggles to listen.
Give us moments of silence,
where we can be still,
hearing what cannot be heard above the noise.
Allow us to focus on your voice of mercy and justice,
forgiveness and hope.
Instill in us an awareness of your presence,
as we listen for the needs of others,
and when it is time to speak up,
may we speak with your grace.