We come to you, O God, with a “beginner’s mind,”
not assuming we know how to listen,
not assuming we know how to speak,
but knowing the transformative power
you have given us when one human
speaks Truth and another human listens.
God, here we are. Teach us to listen.
God, here we are. Teach us to speak.
God of Love, we long to hear your truths spoken.
Give us the courage to manifest your eternal
wisdom in our human voices. When you give us
the impulse to speak, let us feel it distinctly, like
a flame desiring to bring warmth to a cold room.
God, here we are. Move us to listen.
God, here we are. Move us to speak.
Let us consider that courage and comfort
do not often bind together. Yet, you, God,
keep us steady and present, as we pass
through the speaking, through the listening,
into freedom, into healing, into rebirth.
Let your courage land upon us
in the very form of breath –
to inhale is to listen.
to exhale is to speak.
We pray this in the name
of God, Giver of Breath,
Jesus, our Teacher,
and the Holy Spirit, our Inner Guide.
We invite you to hear from the Book of 1 Samuel 3.
3 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli.
The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not
widespread. 2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to
grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room;
3 …Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, 4 Then the
Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!”
5 and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he
said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.
8 The Lord called Samuel again, [a second and] a third time. And
[each time] he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you
called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy.
9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you,
you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So
Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel!
Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something
in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle.
15 Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the
house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But
Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.”
17 Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me.
18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him.
Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.”
The Good News of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
The grass withers and the flower fades,
but the Word of the Lord endures forever. Amen.
Sermon and Reflection
What do you know from your own experience of courageous speaking: what factors help others listen to you?
What do you know from your own experience of courageous listening: what makes it harder to listen? What helps you listen?
If you could write a letter to the future about the times we are living through, what wisdom would you want to hand down?
God, give us courage to enter into the sacred space
of conversation, of listening and of speaking.
In our intimate relationships – with family, with friends,
in our social circles – with colleagues, with neighbors,
in our ephemeral connections, with acquaintances, with
strangers. Your Truth need not be locked up by fear.
May we enter a posture of listening
to one another with our whole beings.
May we enter a posture of speaking with
transparency and humbleness and love.
What you speak to us, in our hearts, may we readily
give to another with our voices. What words you place
before us, spoken to us, may we receive with patience
and intrigue, if not with care and compassion.
Enable us to listen beyond the words, hearing the essence
of what is spoken, folding it gently into our own contemplations,
creating space for the pauses, the moments of processing,
realizing, considering, rethinking.
To be heard is to be known.
To be known is to be vulnerable.
To be vulnerable is to be open to a changed heart
that only you, God of Mystery, can and will bring,
in more ways than we can imagine.
Let us engage in both of these wonders –
Listening – inhaling –
Speaking – exhaling –
Let us move between them in conversation with ease,
trusting your nimble Spirit to shift our flow of breath.
Let your unstoppable love and your unfailing Truth
flow from us and to us, as we speak, as we listen,
as we trust, courageously.
In the name of God, all around us,
Jesus, near to us,
and the Holy Spirit, within us.
Go in peace, and live the church.
May you find safety and rest this week.
[Photo by Laura Vinck]