How do we Listen? How do we Hear?

Last Sunday we gathered.  We prayed.  We started checking in with the homework to be “shiny.”  And we had all thought about it.  Some asked — in different words, and building off the on-going conversation — what does it mean to be “shiny?”  Some articulated we have the opportunity in all that we do, a smile, being kind, others offered grander moments.  The group named also, being shiny includes when folks see/noticed you (your works/behavior) and because of that are pointed to God & give God glory & praise; some discussed the challenge of this — that being shiny can be off-putting, and also asked how people will know (why) you are being shiny.  As usual it was an insightful, though not comprehensive discussion.

As we continue in shining (for God is shiny — and with Transfiguration Sunday where we remember Jesus shining like nothing we’d ever seen before, and with brilliant newly fallen snow outside inviting us to consider how beauty does invite us to praise God!) I must share how delighted I was to enjoy the Superbowl and to see an example of shining in the post game speeches/awards.  Sure, there could be a conversation about sports, about health, about idolatry, but what I want to lift is how there were multiple voices (coach & player) who when rewarded for their work & play gave glory & honor to God — they were shiny in what they do (football) and that shine allowed them also to give thanks to God above — we won’t always have platforms so big & flashy, but our shining brings the light of Christ into dark places, and if we make even one dark corner brighter the impact — even if we can’t see — is life-changing, because the love of God is transformative!  AMEN! 

And then we shifted, we considered scripture (Galatians 3:27-28, Revelation 7:9-10, Romans 12:4-8).  We also heard the article “Malcolm X and the Christian Ethic of Violence” quickly read.  And then began our discussion.  There was so much to say as the scripture selections and the article speak to so much.  There was a question naming a need to (try to) define Christian Ethics.  It also became apparent that each of us gathered at the table (& those who were not there too) bring such a variety and diversity of lived experiences to the conversation.  We touched upon stories and insights, because I think as we open the door to have honest conversations, to listen across difference (perceived & actual!) we find an ability to discuss things that are core to us or memories that have formed us…we didn’t start a fight, we didn’t name our deepest differences either, we started the conversation.

And we continue the conversation for our homework this week, to in our own lives listen across difference.  To engage in conversation with someone who believes differently than you & to listen.  And then of course to come back and share!  Some said, they do this all the time & that is a gift!  And yet, I think the invitation is to ALWAYS be doing this.  God did not create us to be the same, or even to believe all the same things/details — God invites us to relationship and it is through Christ, through the saving blood that covers us — that we are united — it’s all about Christ, he is who unites us with each other and with God!  And so listening across difference is part of who we are designed to be — those in community.

One way we #love is through really listening.  If a personal conversation does not avail itself, there is also TV, radio, youtube, and social media.  Let us listen well across difference this week.  Let us continue asking of ourselves (and our church), “How do we listen?  How do we hear?  How do we create space for conversation across difference?” 

In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater  

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