John 1:43-51 is the story of Jesus calling Philip and Nathanael. Philip claims to Nathanael that the one about whom Moses and all the prophets wrote, but Nathanael is skeptical. "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" he asks. And Philip invites Nathanael to "come and see."
I'm super tired these days. Mostly because much of what is taking place in Washington D.C. is taking hours to unfold. It probably always does, but I'm not always watching. However, I've been making it a point to be watching and listening at critical moments like State of the Union addresses, both political conventions, presidential and vice presidential debates, election returns in November and again in early January, the certification of votes, and each of the recent impeachment hearings. It's important to me to hear both sides. It is important to me to not just hear, but to listen. Often I hear people around me declaring that nothing good can come out of DC. I disagree. I can often hear valid points in the statements made by people with whom I fundamentally disagree, and I sometimes find myself re-evaluating my position on certain philosophies in light of the statements made by people with whom I politically agree. Always, I am evaluating what I hear on the basis of what I hear God saying to God's people in this time and place through the dynamics of scripture and the law of love.
It is not easy to be a listener. Sometimes, it means biting my own tongue ... hard ... especially when the persons to whom I am listening do not particularly care to listen to me or my perspective. I'm not always good at it, but I'm practicing. The spiritual practice of listening when we are skeptical -- or even in outright disagreement -- is critical to healing relationships and communities and nations. Karl Barth is credited with saying that Christians are called to pray with the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other. Prayer is about listening. We need to listen to what God is saying to us about how to apply the law of love to the events in the headlines, to the challenges our nation faces, to the pain we have caused/are causing, and to the brokenness within and among us.
This week, I invite you to listen. Listen not just to people who agree with you, but also to people who disagree with you. Listen not just to the news but also to scriptures. Listen without interrupting with your own points. Cast aside fear and anger and just listen. See what God reveals to you in your listening, and notice if the space between you and "the other" can become a place of grace.
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Julie participated in the 25th Seminar for Certified Zentangle(R) Teacher Training in June, 2019, trained by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. In addition to creating art as a personal spiritual practice, Julie also incorporates the Zentangle(R) method in Prayer Art Retreats in a variety of contexts, including church groups, friend gatherings, and at a local art gallery. Check out the Upcoming Events page for a calendar of events, or use the Contact Us page to inquire about scheduling an event with your group!
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