In your steadfast love hear my voice; O Lord, in your justice preserve my life.
As we talked about during Advent, we live in a noisy world full of loud voices competing for our attention. That’s why we spent all of Advent focusing on silence – learning about the value of silence and how to practice it so that we can be more attuned to God’s voice in our lives. Silence makes us better listeners, not only to God’s voice, but to one another and even those whose voices we may have overlooked or never really heard before, those whose voices offer a very different perspective than our own.
This January and February, we are inviting the congregation to join together in a conversation called “Lift Every Voice: Thinking About Race, Privilege and Faith.” As much as we might like to think that we are open and inclusive about these issues or that our nation has progressed past them, the news headlines and the continuing struggle and conflict in our communities and nation tell a different story. Maybe it’s time for us to listen to some different voices so that we can better understand why these issues seem so intractable and then work together to find more constructive solutions.
At the January Presbytery meeting, author Brian McLaren spoke about 13 biases or barriers to mutual understanding. He began by stating what seems obvious, “People can’t see what they can’t see because of certain built-in biases we all share.” It’s also true that we can’t hear what we can’t hear because of these same biases and barriers. UNLESS someone helps us see or hear a different story, a different perspective, a different reality from our own.
In her book Waking Up White (and Finding Myself in the Story of Race), author Debby Irving shares her own deeply personal story of waking up to a new reality that she had been unable to see or hear before and of the numerous people who helped her see and hear it. Along the way, she shares what she has learned and invites us to examine our own perspectives and assumptions about how the world works. We are having some fascinating and thought-provoking conversations, and we hope you pick up a copy of the book in the Church Office and join us on Sunday evenings at 6 pm or Tuesday or Thursday mornings at 10 am.
The primary reason we are lifting every voice and listening to different voices is because that is how our God works and how Jesus lived and worked with people during his ministry here on earth. God listens to every voice, especially the voices of the poor and oppressed, the downtrodden and discouraged. Jesus regularly listened to the people that others tried to ignore or silence. We also are called to listen so that we can become more faithful witnesses to the good news of the gospel for all God’s children, not just the ones who are like us. In the words of one of our confessions: “In a broken and fearful world the Spirit gives us courage… to hear the voices of peoples long silenced and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace.”
See you in church,