Saturday, 23 February 2013

Listen...

Listen.  What can you hear? If we sat here long enough we would perhaps hear the draw of our breath, and then perhaps going deeper in,  the beat of our heart as the blood courses round our bodies. If we went deeper into that listening still - we might hear the wood of a pew creek as someone shifts position, or the football match outside, or a plane going overhead, or of the weather outside or passing traffic.

If we allowed our listening to go deeper still what else would we experience? As we listen intently we often close our eyes to focus in. When I was at Secondary school I had a music teacher who would do that - as he played is Grieg or Mozart he would close his eyes to focus in on the music and would drift away, carried on it’s currents to distant shores.

As we listen attentively and deeply like this we often become aware of all sorts of other stuff - the hard smoothness of the wood under us, the presence of those around us...

and the deeper and longer we listen the more aware we become of everything else in it’s minute and infinite detail and the universe somehow becomes more alive with the sense that something else is here - that’s why many love to come into our churches and just sit in silence - they become powerfully aware of that gentle, unnamed and unknown ‘something else’. God.

We are invited to listen more attentively to God as the story of His love for us unfolding in the pages of scripture, and we are encouraged by Him to listen supremely to His Beloved, His Chosen, His Son with whom He is well pleased.  Jesus in turn through direct teaching and parable alike, encourages His hearers to listen - if they have ears, and even if they do, do they really hear?  Listen, says Jesus...

People, we, have been encouraged and invited to listen to Jesus before on many occasions, but now, as He turns literally and metaphorically, inevitably toward Jerusalem I wonder what intonation Jesus places on that one word in the middle of this morning’s Gospel reading: ‘listen.’ Is it an invitation to hear? It is a barked command?  Is it pointed with frustration?

Listen...

says Jesus. Listen... to the story of the love of God in action - listen again to what you have already seen with your own eyes... the sick are healed, the possessed are freed, God is purposefully, obviously, inevitably at work. And this work will reach it’s climax very soon now in Jerusalem...

Listen...

But hasn’t that always been the problem?  People over centuries have looked for God: we’ve longed for Him, cried out for Him, needed Him... but with our fingers in our ears... We can clearly see, but we only hear in part what He continues to say...

Listen...

But like a fox, set only on our own self preservation - the devious cunning of our hard Herod hearts breaks the heart of God. Listen says Jesus... but we are not. We are looking out only for ourselves, worrying about ourselves, concerned for our future alone, and in the midst of the anxious noise of our lives we’re making our own plans.

Listen...

for God’s plan is not an action but that peace that fills our church buildings, that breaks open the sky at dawn, that fills us to the brim when being embraced, that drives us to be better people and to seek a better world, that catches our breath in the presence of utter beauty, that touches our tender core, that fills us with jealous and protective love for our children in the face of the big bad world... it is then when we are nestled close as if under His wings... Listen, says Jesus... God loves you... That’s it, and it completes everything. And we know it, but...

we see and yet refuse to believe what our eyes tell us. We hear, but do not comprehend. Somehow, contrary to all that our senses reveal - we are loved beyond all imagining - and yet we do not, cannot, will not receive that simple truth - killing, stoning, ostracizing, excluding, silencing, degrading, humiliating and ultimately crucifying those who sing God’s love song, and it breaks the heart of the One who loves us.

Listen...

we are loved, we are loved, we are loved... beyond all imagining, more than we desire or deserve.  Those words simply phrase the silent glow of the universe - all we see, all we know all we yearn for.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord - for he shows us what we will still not see; tells us what we still refuse to hear... and invites us to do what we still fail to do so often... to listen... and be loved...