As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. (1 Samuel 1:12-13)
I’m sure many of us have had this experience – the words in our heart are not heard, and instead we experience frustration and pain caused by the assumptions and accusations of our listeners. Often our reaction is anger and defensiveness, or shutdown and withdrawal.
I’m impressed with Hannah. As the story continues, she chooses to remain engaged, speaking with simplicity and honesty, and the space is created for Eli to respond to her heart (which he does) rather than continue reacting based on his assumptions about her.
Perhaps you can see why I selected 1 Samuel 1:9-18 for one our Sunday passages as we continue reflecting on the most essential of our Priority & Practices: “Reflective Listening: We are to cultivate fresh ways of listening to Jesus, to each other, and to our neighbors — listening to, understanding, and responding to hearts, rather than merely hearing and reacting to words.”
Last week we focused on listening to Jesus. This week we focus on listening to each other and our neighbors. What will create space for us not merely to “observe” each other’s’ mouths, but hear the words of others’ hearts? A helpful place to begin is James 1:19, “Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak….” One way of putting that wisdom into practice is to be slow to assume you understand, and quick to ask questions to gain clarity. Then, when we have greater understanding of the other’s heart, we have the opportunity to respond to genuine needs and desires, instead of jumping into words or actions that inhibit rather than facilitate the work of the Spirit in that moment. For more on this practice of “Reflective Listening,” read my Feb. 26 Pastor’s Corner.
Life Together Updates
This Sunday is our second-to-last week at Gray’s Event Center, and what a gift this space has been. On September 12, we will return to worshiping each Sunday at Beville Middle School at 10am. I have a few notes for us as we prepare for this transition.
First, for many of us this feels like a homecoming, the return to a familiar space and practices. In keeping with that celebratory feeling, we’re planning a few extra details for our gathering on the 12th. Our focus that day will be on Immanuel’s Intergenerational nature, and there will be opportunities throughout the service for all members to be engaged in our worship. Families with kids, we want you there, and we have a few special things in mind for you! And we’re inviting everyone to bring a picnic, and join us outside for lunch on the lawn.
Second, since we will be gathering at a public school, PWCS policies apply. Everyone will be required to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status, even when speaking or singing at the microphone. I’ve been encouraged to hear from many in our congregation who feel this provides the sense of safety that frees them to join us for in-person worship. For those of us who are disappointed by this requirement, I encourage you to receive this as an opportunity to offer a sacrifice to the Lord—giving the gift of your presence to Jesus and his gathered body.
Finally, we are using this as an opportunity to adjust our sound and livestreaming arrangements. Beginning this Sunday, we will use a simplified version of our sound and livestream systems. Late fall our newly purchased equipment arrives (yay!). Starting in September, we will offer training on sound mixing skills and the new equipment, with the intent to begin using the new system in early November. Please let Jordan Weymouth know if you’re interested in joining the AV team.
I look forward to being with you this Sunday.
Your Pastor in Christ,