From the Pastor …
Here you will find notes from Rev. Laura Bachmann from the weekly email blasts and from our monthly Harbinger newsletter.
Lord, you have searched me out and known me, you know my sitting down and my rising up, you discern my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139:1
Yesterday, we reflected on how God listens deeply to our lives, searching us out to know us, becoming acquainted with all our ways, tracing our journeys and our resting places and hearing every word on our lips, even before we have spoken it. As we make our way down this Lenten road toward the agony of the cross in Jerusalem and out the other side to the joy of the empty tomb, we can find reassurance in God’s abiding presence in every aspect of our lives. Even as we bear the deep sorrow of a half million deaths due to COVID, even as we stand in solidarity with those mourning Daniel Prude’s death anew and crying out for a justice that seems unbearably long in coming, we can cling to the presence of the One who will not let us go, the One from whom we cannot flee. As the psalmist reminds us, even if we climb up to heaven or make the grave our bed, God is there also. Darkness is not dark to God, and the light around us will not turn to night. In the God who listens to every sigh and murmur, we find a steadfast presence that we too are invited to copy and offer to our own communities. As we tune our ears and our eyes to notice God’s listening presence in our lives, let us also allow that abundant attention to overflow our own lives to provide energy for listening deeply to one another as well. Even as we encounter those who cannot feel God’s presence, let us commit to holding the space of God’s amazing grace with our neighbors until they too can find their way back to God’s enfolding embrace.
March 2021 Harbinger
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice! Psalm 95:7
As the people of God’s pasture, how comforting it can be to listen to God’s voice – the voice that will lead us to the good, green grass when we hunger; to the cool, clear water when we thirst, and to the spaces of safety when we encounter danger. This year, in the midst of the chaos of a disordered life, we are focusing on a Lent of Listening. A time to notice how God listens deeply to our lives. A time to practice the art of listening deeply to others. A time to invest in listening deeply to God.
We hear so much about the art of listening these days. How to listen without spending all our time planning what we will say next. How to listen without judgment instead of arguing in our heads with what is being expressed. How to listen with curiosity when all we want to do is attack or defend. To listen with our whole selves is to give the speaker the gift of an active presence, fully focused on their words, attending to the nuances of body language and tone, watching what the eyes and the hands say. When I taught preschool, we used to tell our children that they could listen with their whole bodies. How wonderful it was to watch them squirm into place, their small legs and torsos wiggling with excitement, their expectant faces turned toward the speaker. So often, at these times, when another child was speaking and expressed sadness or fear or upset, the listeners gathered around would respond with compassion and love and a ready hug. As I picture them today, I wonder, what would happen if we continued to listen to each other like that? What would happen if we truly believed that God listens to us in the same way? What would happen if we listened to the deepest parts of our souls with a whole body’s worth of attention? Can you imagine the good God could do with that?
As we continue to prepare for the time when we can once again leave our cocoons and venture into the wider world, why not lay some groundwork for change by listening to God, to one another, to ourselves? Let us do the counter-cultural thing and, instead of continuing to fight with the “others” we encounter in the political, personal, work or faith realms, let us commit to listening in order to understand, to gain compassion, to receive insight. In a world where listening has largely disappeared, let us challenge ourselves to talk less and listen more; to create space for the voices that so often remain unheard; to tune our ears to God’s listening presence in our lives; to seek the answering response of our hearts when we hear God’s voice. Let us listen with our whole bodies and ask God to show us how to answer with our whole lives.
© 2021 Rev. Laura Bachmann
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