by Rick Diamond

The Bible is thousands of years old and it contains stories and poems that were written in contexts with people who, to us, would look like ancient nomads in the desert. It was a quiet world -- no cell phones, radios, televisions, loudspeakers, lawn mowers, car engines. Most people didn't live in cities. They worked outside, under the sun or the stars.

And yet, even those people had to focus their attention in order to hear God speak. So, it's not surprising that it's especially hard for us, in the modern, noisy 21st century, to hear God.

I've noticed that lots of us complain that we don't know if God is present, and that we've never heard God speak the way God speaks in the biblical stories. But it wasn't exactly commonplace for God to speak audibly - or in dreams, or in signs - even back then. Even in the quieter world. The stories when people DID hear from God are recorded for a reason: they were rare. It was a big deal. 

Instead, the Bible tradition emphasizes that it requires effort and patience and discipline to be open to what God wants for the best way for human beings to live. Studying the scriptures. Living intentionally around schedules with sabbath and rest, and eating healthy foods, and participating in regular worship and community and prayer. Opening oneself to the belief, the trust, that there is a God who is present.

Nothing magical. Just listening, and practicing a life in which God is the organizing principle.

It wasn't any easier in the quieter world. Maybe it seems easier to us, because our heads are so full of noise and information. In which case, how can we listen for the messages of God? Pay attention: what are the organizing principles in the way we order our lives? Is there any room for God to even speak, much less be heard and welcomed?

Listen to the Service

Today's Program

Gathering Our Spirit to God's Spirit

A tall glass cylinder in the center of the room is filled with branches extending out the top; branches are also hanging from the ceiling around the room. There is nothing on the stage, no instruments or mics; chairs are in the round.

  • “Learn to be Still” by the Eagles plays
  • A Journeyer steps up to light the lamp and another rings the bell 
  • David (E) and Leslie (L) make announcements (including Journey 2.0)

Worshiping with Our Children

  • A Journeyer leads our children in talking about how important listening is to being able to know what it is that our parents, teachers, coaches or God want us to know or do.  

From Our Spirit to God's Spirit

  • David welcomes, has us breathe…
  • David explains the series and the three “stop and breathe” opportunities
  • Stop and Breathe 1:  “Be still and know that I am God” -- Psalm 46:10 (words on screen); a Journeyer rings the bell
  • Three Journeyers come to the microphone to read 

Reader 1:  Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 

Guard your steps as you go to the house of God, and draw near to listen rather than offer the sacrifice of fools, who have no idea why they are there. Do not be hasty in word, or impulsive in thought. Therefore let your words be few and true.

Reader 2:

“Listen or thy tongue will keep thee deaf.” -- Indian proverb

“The first duty of love is to listen.” – Paul Tillich, German-American theologian and Christian existentialist philosopher

Reader 3:  “Moveable Feast” by Ariele Gentiles

Between departure and settling in, I've mourned and melancholied and rediscovered my reluctance to confront uncomfortable situations. I'm a mess. But I've also rediscovered my love for parsing, sussing, playing with ideas and concepts. The pseudo-philosopher and amateur theologian in me has been greatly fed, and I wish to further cook these ideas and notions stirring cake in my brain. And so, I have chosen to fully immerse myself for the first time in this Lenten season, hoping for a better wisdom and progress over utter renewal. Lack fasts and do fasts. A resolve to surprise I + others. I do not know where I will find myself (if I shall find Self) in 40 days, but I wish to emerge a bit brighter, a bit more connected. I do not expect some great awakening, only a letting go. Lately, 'How am I not myself?' mantras over and over & I just desire a dearer nearness to Be. 

  • Stop and Breathe 2:  “Be still…” (words on screen); a Journeyer rings the bell
  • Another Journeyer comes to the microphone for Reading 4

Reader 4:  Genesis 12:1-4a (GRV)

God spoke to Abram, and Abram was listening. He heard God tell him to pack up his family, dwellings, possessions and livestock and begin a journey that would start by leaving behind his lifelong home, many of his extended family, his business, and his country. God did not provide a trip itinerary, a GPS signal or a Google map. He simply said, “You go. I’ll let you know when you get to the right spot. And remember, the journey is as important as the destination. My part of the bargain is this: your faithfulness will manifest itself in the formation of a powerful community of people who both bless the world and will be blessed.” So Abram started packing…

Telling The Story and Our Story

  • Rick talks
  • Rick explains the lectio divina exercise using the Genesis passage from Reading 4
  • Folks get in groups of four or five. After discussion, a rep from the group comes to the glass cylinder in the middle of the room and paints a word or symbol on the glass.

Giving -- To Help God Do God's Work in This World  

  • Stop and Breathe 3:  “Be…” (words on screen); a Journeyer rings the bell
  • Andy Goldsworthy video plays as the ushers pass the offering baskets and return them to the foot of the cross 

Go Out to Serve with Mercy and Grace

  • David leads the community in saying Genesis 12:1-4
  • David dismisses
  • “Learn to be Still” plays again as folks depart