Tag Archives: listening

To retreat or not to retreat; that is the question!

The verb “retreat” is a bad word from a military perspective.  Military leaders don’t like to retreat, they always want to advance towards their goals.  Retreat often means defeat.   It means to fall back and give yourself a chance to regroup.

In civilian life, though, the noun “retreat” is a good one.  This summer you may have gone to a resort that is described as a “retreat”, a woodland oasis, away from the busy city.  As a church we have gone on a number of “retreats”, weekends where we go away as a community.   I wonder about how we can use the verb “retreat”.  Do you ever feel the need to retreat, to stop advancing?  Do you ever need the opportunity to regroup?

Jesus felt the need to retreat.  At numerous times throughout the gospels we see him taking time to retreat.  Sometimes it’s a mini-retreat, an evening on a lonely mountainside alone.  Other times it’s weeks of time in the wilderness, where he faces his deepest fears alone.  Sometimes his retreats away are chosen, but other times they are forced upon him.  He did not want to pray alone in the garden of Gethsemene, but the disciples could not watch and pray with him.  It was a lonely time, a time to listen to the voice of God.

This Sunday I want to challenge us all to think about retreats in the context of our lives.  What would a retreat look like for you?  Is worship a time of retreat?  Do you take the time to retreat alone, or are your alone times filled with busy activities and entertainments?  What would God reveal to you in a time of silence?

This week’s prayer:   Help us to hear your voice calling us to a quiet place, a place where we can better hear your voice.  Amen.

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A quick listener

Quick is a word we don’t usually associate with listening. Quick-tempered is an adjective, and we all know people who are always quick to say something. But a quick listener, not so much. Maybe because listening seems to have a passive element to it. You just sit there without moving a muscle and the sound waves hit your ear. How can that be quick?

But notice that it’s not hearing we are talking about here. Hearing is something that just happens to us from outside…we hear noises, we hear a voice. It’s a biological reaction…sound waves hitting the old ear drum. It’s not hearing we’re after here…it’s listening that we need to be quick at. Listening involves effort, it involves paying attention, it involves caring about what is being heard.

James, in the first chapter of his letter writes; “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger…” What would change in your life if you were a quick listener…an attentive listener? If you had listening skills that would allow you to always pick up not only the words but the meaning of the words people spoke to you?

I think I would be a better listener if I wasn’t thinking about what I wanted to say next. Because I am quick to speak, I often don’t have the space I need to be a quick listener. What is God trying to teach me here? If you listen you’ll hear more about this on Sunday.

This week’s prayer:  God, you fill the world with listening possibilities every day. Help us realize our listening potential!

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