In the Hebrew Proverbs we hear: “Make attentive your ear to wisdom and incline your heart to understanding,” “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is her folly and shame,” and “Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise rebuke to a listening ear.”
Listening is a creative force.
We experience a powerful presence when we are listened to fully, and the reverse is also true. We expand, ideas germinate and grow, and we remember who we are all as a result of listening. The very whispers of creation settle on our ears when we listen.
Yes, sadly it is true. Often expectations, boredom, judgments, self-assertiveness, and defensiveness set our posture in such ways that our ears turn inward. Sometimes we need to talk – sometimes we need to get something off our chest: trust friend, counselor, or mentor with our vulnerable voice and give utterance to that thing that keeps nagging just below the surface of every unfocused thought. But mostly, as the saying goes, God gave us two ears and but one mouth…
I have found great Truth in Stephanie Speller’s words from her book, Radical Welcome: “The more we welcome new perspectives and voices fully into our lives, the bigger and fuller our knowledge of the world and of God, and the richer our identity as the body of Christ.”
Listening is a creative force. It is a key component to realizing the presence of God within all of
creation, like Jesus did.
It is in this spirit that I was please to invite our keynoter for the Fall Conference for Faith and Learning, Dr. Mark Johnston. Holding a Ph.D. in Pastoral Psychology from Boston University and currently serving as the Executive Director of the Opening and Affirming Ministry Program at the Gay Lesbian and Affirming Disciples (GLAD) Alliance, Dr. Johnston is our denomination’s resident clinician on the life giving power of welcome.
This is a conversation you will not want to miss. Please come and participate in our Fall Conference for Faith and Learning. Dr. Johnston will be our pulpit guest on Sunday, October 18, and immediately after worship bring your side-dish or dessert to the Fellowship Hall for a pot-luck dialogue with Dr. Johnston. Then Monday evening, October 19 at 6:00pm, you’re invited to a third and final conversation served with ice cream and coffee.
Three opportunities to reflect on the power of welcome. Three times to listen and engage. Three invitations to participate in a conversation with Dr. Johnston. Come to one, come to all!