At the beginning of the W.O.R.S.H.I.P. blog posts, I had a very different idea of what I was going to talk about this week. Like many of you, these past few weeks have broken my heart. There have been moments where I have hoped and prayed to wake up from what seems like a bad dream. However, I do sense an atmosphere of hope in these difficult times. Christ is with us every step of the way and if we listen to Him, He will direct our paths. I believe our duty as Christians is to worship God through all things and to be the church for all of humanity. Many people are hurting and need helping. Many people are fearful and need faith. Many have suffered great loss and need community.
This week’s W.O.R.S.H.I.P. letter is H for HEAR. I want to give you with three invitations as we move forward in reconciliation with one another.
- Pray and listen to God. Often, we clutter up our prayer lives (and our relational lives) with talking too much. Yes, God wants to hear you, but God also has things to say to you. The primary purpose of prayer is not to get God to do what we think He ought to do but to be formed into Christlikeness. It is a conversation, and a conversation has back and forth dialogue. As we seek Him and listen to Him, He will direct our thoughts, our hearts, our minds, and our next steps. Each of us has a role to play in the church and in the sharing of the Gospel. King Jesus wants to speak with you because He has things for you to do. He is the good shepherd; He wants to guide and lead you as we move forward as ministers of reconciliation.
“In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:6 ESV
- Do not suppress your emotions and know that God is with you. It is okay to feel angry, frustrated, confused, sad, unsure, alone, and nervous during these COVID-19 times. Jesus, the Word made flesh, felt these emotions too. Paul says this is Hebrews 4:15 (ESV), “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Indeed, it is okay to feel emotions, but we cannot use emotions to justify sin. Paul goes further in Ephesians 4 saying, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” (Eph. 4:26-28 ESV) Sometimes our emotions get the best of us, but my prayer for you is that you remember who you belong to, represent Him in all ways, and to give away your emotions to Him during these times.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 ESV
- “Seek to understand, then to be understood.” St. Francis of Assisi has gifted the church with a beautiful prayer. In this prayer he says, “Seek to understand, then to be understood.” Today, we need to hear those around us. We need to listen before we speak. Hearing and listening are the first steps in understanding. This is HARD. We want a quick fix, an uplifting scripture, and to assure people that everything is fine. Sometimes, we need to take a step back and just hear the words of others around us. Jesus actively listened. He asked questions like, “What do you think?” (Matthew 17:25 ESV) or “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:13-16 ESV). He even stopped to listen to the story of the woman who touched His garment in Mark 5:22-34 (ESV). On His way to heal Jairus’ daughter, he stopped and listened to the woman at the well’s story. He hears the concerns, opinions, and needs of everyone despite their race, gender, status, or sin. There are many people feeling lonely these days so make it a point to reach out to those who are experiencing loneliness. Taking the time to listen to others creates space for the Spirit to move. In this space, God will redeem, heal, and comfort.
I want to leave you this week with the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi and invite you to pray this with me this week.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal life.
Associate Worship Pastor